As the NFL weaves toward Week 9, we’ve reached the point in the season where players placed on injured reserve around the time of the season opener are eligible to return after their eight-week stint on the inactive portion of the roster. The Buffalo Bills only have one such candidate; tight end Jason Croom.
In order to be eligible to return, a player needs to have been on the team’s 53-man active roster during the season. Croom made Buffalo’s initial roster despite missing most of training camp and the preseason with hamstring injuries. He was placed on IR before the team’s Week 1 game, however.
The tight-end position is already flush with NFL talent, though, so it’s unlikely we will see Croom without an injury at the position. Lee Smith has carved out his role with Tyler Kroft return from his own injury to join rookies Dawson Knox and Tommy Sweeney. One of the tight ends is inactive each week.
Not eligible to return are defensive end Mike Love, offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle, and linebacker Vosean Joseph, who were place on injured reserve before the final 53-man roster was released. Defensive tackle Harrison Phillips would be eligible to return later this season, but his torn ACL injury means he won’t be able to play again in 2019.
That doesn’t mean a player who is injured now won’t be eligible to return this season. The rule applies into the playoffs, so a player hurt over the next few weeks could still return in time to play in the postseason.
Buffalo skirted the rule a bit with running back Senorise Perry, who was placed on injured reserve in the preseason. With a short recovery time frame, Perry was released from injured reserve on August 31st but re-signed on October 8th after the appropriate waiting period.
Teams may bring two players off injured reserve in any given season.