Five Teams Leave IR-DTR Spot Unused

Each year, NFL teams have the option of placing one player on their injured reserve list without necessarily ending his season. That player is designated to return, a move that allows him to begin practicing six weeks after he’s placed on IR, and makes him eligible to return to game action after eight weeks.

It’s a useful tool for NFL clubs who want to open up a spot on their active rosters, but don’t necessarily want to lose a player for the season with what may not be a long-term injury. During the 2014 season, 27 of 32 teams took advantage of the IR-DTR slot, while the remaining five clubs never ended up using it. And as we head into Week 12, there’s little point in using the designation now, since there are only six weeks left in the season. The following five teams declined to use their IR-DTR spots this season:

  • Houston Texans
  • Miami Dolphins
  • Minnesota Vikings
  • New York Jets
  • Tennessee Titans

All five teams have plenty of players on their season-ending injured reserve list, and it’s possible that in some cases using that shorter-term designation on a player would have allowed him enough time to recover and to return this season. But for the majority of these clubs’ most notable injuries, there was no chance of those players coming back in 2014 — for instance, Jets cornerback Dee Milliner and Titans safety Bernard Pollard both tore their Achilles tendons, while Dolphins tackle Branden Albert tore his ACL and MCL.

Here’s how the league’s other 27 teams used their IR-DTR spots this season. Players listed in italics have since been re-activated by their respective clubs:

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