Mike McCarthy will have a little more flexibility in his roster next season. (Mary Langenfeld-US PRESSWIRE)
This week, the NFL owners voted to approve a few changes to the league's rules. Joel Thorman of SBNation covered the rule changes in depth here, but I'll try to address what these changes mean to the Green Bay Packers organization.
1: Knee and thigh pads are mandatory starting in 2013
Aside from Charles Woodson now wearing padding on his legs, I don't see this change holding much significance for the team. It may help prevent some deep thigh or knee bruises, but serious knee or leg injuries do not appear likely to be reduced by this. Let's move on.
2: Trade deadline moved from Week 6 to Week 8
When was the last time Ted Thompson traded a player during the season? The last player I can think of is running back Ryan Grant, who was acquired from the New York Giants around the end of the preseason in 2007. There's little activity at the trade deadline in the NFL in general, and I imagine that this will help increase that activity only slightly. If they really want to increase activity at the deadline, move it back another few weeks as Joel suggested. Either way, I don't see it having much of an impact on the Packers, especially when you consider Thompson's preferred method of acquiring players.
3: One player may be placed on temporary Injured Reserve, meaning he will be eligible to begin practicing 6 weeks later and play in games 8 weeks later
This is the change that will affect the Packers the most. In 2010, the team ended with several starters on Injured Reserve, in part because there were too many injuries and they needed to backfill those roster spots with healthy bodies. A few players, most notably Ryan Grant, may have been healthy enough to play towards the end of the season, but due to the Injured Reserve rules, were ineligible for the entire season. This exemption would have let the team put Grant on temporary IR, where he could have been eligible to play in week 9 or 10.
One question I have is whether a player on temporary IR can be shifted to full IR and therefore ruled ineligible for the remainder of the season; in that case, would the team be allowed to put a more recently-injured player on temporary IR in his place? Or is it even more flexible, in that one player may be reactivated six weeks from when he was put on IR, and he does not need to be designated on "temporary" IR at the time of his injury?
I'm sure more details about this change will be clarified as the rule is explained, but it regardless appears to offer teams more flexibility with their rosters and may ease the pain of placing a key player on injured reserve when their injury might allow them back on the field later in the season.