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Chicago Bears Safety Brandon Hardin Could Play This Year Thanks To New Rule

Due to a modified NFL rule, injured Chicago Bears safety Brandon Hardin actually may have a shot at returning to action before the 2012 campaign is out, according to

The first-year defensive back was placed on injured reserve after a scary preseason neck injury earlier this month, and will need to be moved to the team's 53-man roster before Friday's deadline in order to retain this possibility. If he is indeed safe in the final round of cuts, Hardin can then finally be moved to the injured reserve again in a position where he could then be selected to return after the sixth week.

While it's unclear if Hardin can even rehab from his neck injury in time or if the team would actually use this one-time provision on him versus another player, this is definitely promising news for a franchise that can always use a late-season boost. Hardin possesses both the size and athletic ability to make a legitimate impact in the secondary right away when he gets back, so the Bears may have a tough decision to make if they think he can possibly make an impact later in the year.

Be sure to head over to Windy City Gridiron for more Bears coverage, and check out SB Nation's NFL hub for more news from around the league.