Orchard Park, NY (WGR 550) -- It isn't exactly the way Buffalo Bills cornerback Ron Brooks would have liked to kick off his rookie season, but it's a lot better than the alternative of years past.
On Tuesday at 4 pm, the very first moment a team from the National Football League could use the 'designated for return' option for the Injured Reserve list on a player, the Bills acted quickly and succinctly.
Brooks, a fourth-round pick in 2012, was bestowed with the honors of being one of the first to have the new rule used on him. After having surgery on his right foot, the cornerback met with the media for the first time since his injury on Thursday.
"The injury happened, and I'd rather it happen it now than later on in the season," Brooks said. "Luckily with the new rule I was able to come back and glad that they designated me that one person to come back in the season."
It's expected that Brooks will miss anywhere from six-to-eight weeks because of the injury. With the new rule, the more optimistic timetable would only be the earliest he could come back to the Bills for practice purposes.
Under the stipulations of the new IR rules, Brooks may return to the Bills after six weeks in a capacity for practice only. The team would have to notify the NFL upon his return to practice, which starts a clock of 21 days.
If the Bills were to start the clock on Brooks after just six weeks, they would still have to wait another two weeks (eight weeks total) to return him to the Active/Inactive List. If he has any setbacks, Buffalo is not required to start the 21-day practice period until they choose to do so, as long as it does not happen before October 17.
Generally speaking, if a team starts their 21-day practice window on the player designated for return, and does not add him back to the Active/Inactive list before that time elapses, that player will be put on Injured Reserve for the remainder of the season and postseason.
Brooks is a happy man that his ill-timed injury won't keep him out for an entire season.
"You definitely don't want to be on I-R, period," he said. "Given the new rule and the fact that they chose me as that one designated person shows a lot about the club's commitment to me and I'm just gonna go back out there to get back 100-percent and go out there and go and compete with my team."
The earliest date Brooks can be returned to the active roster is Tuesday, October 30, with the idea of practicing as a member of the 53-man roster on Wednesday, October 31.
The new rule has only been used by three other teams in the NFL. San Diego (WR Vincent Brown), Cincinnati (OL Kyle Cook) and New England (TE Visanthe Shiancoe) have all elected to use the distinction. Teams can only use it once per season.