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NFL rule change makes Steelers decision on Senquez Golson injury much easier

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The Pittsburgh Steelers got worst-case scenario results from Senquez Golson's Lisfranc injury, but thanks to an NFL rule change prior to the season it eases the burden on the organization's decision on Golson's 2016 season.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

When Senquez Golson went to the turf at St. Vincent College in the first week of training camp, the Pittsburgh Steelers were hoping for the best news possible for what Mike Tomlin labeled as a 'mid-foot injury'. Turns out, they got the worst news possible, with Golson having a Lisfranc injury to his foot.

There are differing levels of severity for such an injury, and Golson's was so bad he had surgery to repair the injury, per Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The news is disappointing for the player who had to sit out his entire rookie season with a torn labrum in his shoulder, but unlike in years past, it won't put the Steelers in a bind from a roster standpoint.

Golson could be a candidate for the short-term injured reserve list. In the past, a team could designate one player to be placed on the list, and return to the team after being on the reserved list for at least six weeks. However, there was a slight change to the rule before the 2016 season.

Our friends at Niners Nation give us the details on this change:

There has been a significant change to the designated for return list. Previously, a team had to declare a player "eligible to return" upon placing the player on injured reserve. Earlier this offseason, the NFL changed the rule so that teams can bring back one player from IR after the eight weeks, without declaring them eligible to return. So, if the team has to place three players on IR at some point, they can wait and see who appears closest to return. They can still only use the move once.

The player is eligible to return to practice if he has been on the IR list for at least six weeks from the date he was placed on Reserve. He is eligible to return to the active list if he has been on the IR list for at least eight weeks from the date he is placed on Injured Reserve.

The Steelers will certainly place Golson on the injured reserve list, but this new change could certainly help the Steelers make a decision on whether he can, or cannot, return in 2016.

Under the old rules, the Steelers would have to state Golson would be on short-term IR, and if he wasn't able to return he would be the same as being placed on IR, wasting the designation.

Maurkice Pouncey's injury in 2015 was a great example of this happening. A broken ankle in the second week of the preseason shouldn't end a player's season, but after major complications with his surgery, he missed the entire campaign. The Steelers wasted their designation on Pouncey when he could have just been placed on IR. Then again, hindsight is always 20/20.

With the new rule, Golson will be placed on injured reserve, and if another player who goes down with a serious injury, and both could possibly return, the Steelers will have to choose which player will return and be given the designation.

Of course, they have to sit out the appropriate length of time, and the organization can only use the designation once. Nonetheless, thanks to this rule change, it gives the Steelers the chance of taking a wait-and-see approach to Golson's recovery from his surgery rather than having to make a decision as training camp unfolds in a few weeks.