The players’ union has approved a rule change on the eve of the season that will allow one designated player from each team to return from injured reserve instead of sitting out the entire season.
Under the new rule, one “marquee” player placed on injured reserve will be able to return to practice after the sixth week of the schedule and to the lineup after the eighth week. That player must be on the 53-man roster after the final preseason cut, which comes today. The player’s injury must be one that prevents him from practicing or playing football for six weeks.
NFL owners approved two changes to the rules in May: the injured reserve change and moving the league’s trading deadline back two weeks to Oct. 30.
The union announced it signed off on the changes Thursday, six days before the regular season kicks off with a game between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys.
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DALTON BANGED UP
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton left on the Bengals’ first series Thursday night with a bruised right arm. Dalton was hit by the Colts’ Robert Mathis and others on the Bengals’ sixth offensive play.
Initially, Dalton stayed down, then got up and walked toward the sideline where he dropped to the ground again. Trainers appeared to be checking his elbow.
Bruce Gradkowski replaced Dalton, who stayed on the sideline.
LOCKER UP AND DOWN
Despite an uneven performance by new starting quarterback Jake Locker, the Tennessee Titans ended their exhibition season with a 10-6 victory over the New Orleans Saints in Nashville, Tenn.
The Saints (2-3) rested all their starters, but the second-year player out of the University of Washington couldn’t take advantage as he continued his streak of spotty play.
He overthrew one open receiver for a sure touchdown and fumbled inside the 5, completing 9 of 16 passes for 81 yards in four series that yielded a field goal by Rob Bironas. He was largely outplayed by Saints third-stringer and former Oregon State QB Sean Canfield, who was 14 of 18 for 144 yards and led the Saints to a 6-3 first-half lead.
WINLESS JETS SCORE
Greg McElroy became the first quarterback to lead the New York Jets into the end zone this exhibition season in a 28-10 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles (4-0), who went unbeaten in the preseason for the first time since 1995.
The Jets (0-4) had become the first team in 35 years to go three exhibition games without a touchdown, matching the 1977 Atlanta Falcons
That drought finally ended in the second quarter when McElroy tossed a 6-yard TD pass to Terrance Ganaway. Starter Mark Sanchez and backup Tim Tebow failed to do that in 35 possessions.
OTHER EXHIBITION HIGHLIGHTS
Matthew Stafford threw a 24-yard TD pass to Calvin Johnson, and the Lions went on to beat the Bills, 38-32. … Charlie Batch completed 11 of 14 passes for 102 yards and a TD as the Steelers edged the Panthers, 17-16. … Trindon Holliday had his third kick return for a touchdown of the exhibition season as the Texans beat the Vikings, 28-24.