Dallas Cowboys tight end Rico Gathers to start season on injured reserve?

Earlier on Saturdy, Bryan Broaddus fired off a pair of tweets that have got to have Cowboys fans worried. In the first, he answers a question about Rico Gathers’ chances of making the team:

He’s pretty banged up right now. Think they’re looking at options there. https://t.co/qnqOw3kwg8

— Bryan Broaddus (@BryanBroaddus) August 26, 2017

Broaddus then followed up that tweet with another one suggesting Gathers could end up on injured reserve.

Gathers had become something of a fan favorite after the former Baylor basketball star impressed during camp and in two strong outings in preseason games, where he had seven catches for 106 yards and two touchdowns.

But Gathers suffered a concussion during an accidental helmet-to-helmet collision in practice on August 15, and has been in the concussion protocol since.

As is their custom, the Cowboys initially called it a day-to-day injury.

“Still taking his situation day by day,” Garrett said. “He obviously was taken out of practice. It was noted as a concussion initially.”

But Gathers hasn’t practiced since the collision with safety Kavon Frazier during seven-on-seven drills almost two weeks ago, and the tweets above from Broaddus make the situation sound a lot more ominous than it initially seemed.

In 2012, the NFL implemented a rule change that allowed teams to activate a single, pre-designated player from IR (“designated to return”) once he’d spent at least eight weeks on the inactive list.

Subsequent changes to the rule now mean teams can return two players from IR, and they no longer have to designate their IR-return players in advance. Instead, they can take any player that has been on IR for at least six weeks and activate him once he’s healthy enough to play.

In recent years, teams have become much less cavalier about head injuries and don’t rush players back from head injuries. If the Cowboys do end up putting Gathers on IR, the earliest he’d be eligible to return would be on October 16, a full 60 days after his injury. And if Gathers is indeed placed on IR, his injury could be much more serious than the Cowboys initially let on.

Or it could simply be about creating an extra roster spot, as Gathers wouldn’t count against the 53-man roster limit as long as he’s on IR, though that sounds a little far fetched. But you never know with these Cowboys.

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