NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue yesterday upheld the Indianapolis Colts' decision to put Eric Dickerson on the reserve-non football injury list, leaving the team to decide when the running back will be activated.

General Manager Jim Irsay said Dickerson could return as early as the Oct. 21 game against Denver.

"He will be back at some point playing for this franchise and when that point is will be determined by us," Irsay said at a news conference in Indianapolis.

Irsay said he would meet today with his father, Robert, who owns the team, and Coach Ron Meyer to discuss Dickerson's status. He said they hope to decide within a week.

Dickerson, who last season said he didn't want to play for the Colts this year, reported to training camp 11 days late and failed a physical because of a hamstring injury suffered in offseason workouts.

He declined to take a physical requested by the team and was placed on the reserve-non football injury list on Aug. 29.

He also was suspended for four weeks for conduct detrimental to the team. Both decisions cost him more than $600,000 from the $1.45 million salary he was to receive this season.