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IR tweak could help David DeCastro, Desmond Bishop

The long-anticipated changes to the trade deadline and injured reserve protocol are finally set to go through. While the trade deadline getting delayed from Week 6 to Week 8 is simple enough, we've seen more confusion regarding the IR rule.

Players with a "major injury" who are placed on injured reserve after 4 p.m. ET on Sept. 4 or later will be eligible to be reactivated later in the season. Each team can only bring back one player during the season. One key part of the rule that has been overlooked: That player has to be "designated for return" at the time he's placed on IR. In short, teams can't wait and see what players recover faster. They must decide right away if a player is worth using the designation.

In future years, only players that are placed on IR after teams make their cuts to a 53-man roster will be eligible. For this year only, the league made an exception to the rule because initial roster cuts have already started. The Green Bay Packers, for instance, could "reactivate" linebacker Desmond Bishop from IR before Aug. 31 at 9 p.m. ET. Bishop must remain on the Packers' 53-man roster through the league-mandated cutdown period and would then be eligible for the roster exemption.

Once a player is "designated for return" he must spend at least six weeks on IR before returning to practice. He can't return to a game in less than eight weeks.

This rule could prove very useful to the Pittsburgh Steelers in dealing with guard David DeCastro. Cincinnati Bengals center Kyle Cook could be another player that may benefit.

It all sounds a little confusing, but it's really not. The trickiest part of the rule for teams will be deciding when to use it. If the Packers don't think Bishop has a realistic chance to help them this year, they are probably better off saving the exemption.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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