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By Friday, every NFL team will have rookies and veterans report to training camp. Denver and Atlanta -- who will face off in the Hall of Fame preseason game -- have already reported. Most teams have started to put players through entrance physicals and conditioning tests and are making decisions on whether to clear players to the active roster and practice or place them to the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) or Non-Football Injury (NFI) list.
Don’t overreact to these designations.
WHY TEAMS USE THE PUP LIST
Every team uses their PUP list differently. Years ago, players put on the PUP list were those unlikely to be cleared for practice. Most would transition to the regular-season PUP list or injured reserve. Now, nearly every team uses the PUP list as medical triage. Players who report out of shape are put on the PUP list until they pass conditioning tests. Players recovering from offseason surgery or an injury during mini-camp are also stashed on the PUP list for a few days to allow medical staff personnel to be certain they are in condition to begin taking contact.
It's usually positive when a recovering veteran starts camp on the active roster, but it’s possible that player’s reps may still be severely limited in the early weeks of camp. And while your spidey senses should be tingling with any player who is a surprise addition to the PUP list or stays on longer than expected, remember that teams will want to keep their PUP and IR-Return options open as long as possible.
Once a player takes part in a practice, those options are limited. If a player participates in a single practice rep, he's ineligible for the regular-season PUP or NFI list. A setback would mean the team has only the injured reserve list to stash a player with a multi-week injury. Teams now have the added flexibility to return two players from the injured reserve list during the season, but teams won't close any doors for themselves sooner than absolutely necessary.
Scroll to the bottom of this article to see exactly how the PUP and NFI lists are defined.
These blurbs and the table entries below will be in constant flux over the next two weeks. Teams may park a player on the PUP list for a day or two to ensure that player is in condition for training camp practice. Teams may add players at any point before they begin to practice. And some players on the PUP list will be considered day-to-day or week-to-week and require further investigation.
Here are the biggest roster developments of the past week.
Sony Michel | Arthroscopic knee procedure | June 2019 | Active - PUP
Here were my thoughts on Michel last month:
Michel has now had procedures to address a balky knee in consecutive offseasons. This year's procedure was performed much earlier in the offseason calendar than last year's joint aspiration, which necessitated over a month of rehab and kept Michel from playing in Week 1. I'm not sure an earlier procedure is a clear positive here, however. Michel should be able to recover from what's likely an offseason maintenance procedure before Week 1. However, Michel hasn't stressed his knee joint in football-specific ways since the end of last season and is already requiring maintenance procedures.
We're now on PUP-watch with Michel. It's possible -- and may even be likely -- he'll not pass his entrance physical. If he starts camp on the PUP list, an always murky New England running back projection will grow even more difficult to parse.
Michel did not pass his entrance physical and is on the PUP list. And we're now stuck trying to read between the lines on a New England injury situation -- murky, indeed.
Let's start with the most optimistic take.
The Patriots and Michel were more proactive this year in addressing knee soreness and decided to move forward with a cleanup procedure much earlier in the offseason. It’s now about a month after the procedure and still within the expected recovery timetable from a knee scope. There’s no reason to put Michel on the active roster until the New England medical staff is certain he’s in practice condition. And Michel’s knee held up well enough last year after a procedure, so this isn't necessarily a major concern.
Unfortunately, that minimizes the real issue here. Michel is 24 years old and has needed procedures - late in the offseason / preseason - in two straight offseasons. His knee is much older than his chronological age.
There are no local reports projecting Michel's length of stay on the PUP list. If Michel comes off PUP within 7-10 days and handles his first week of practice without difficulty, his 2019 season may progress as well as his 2018 season did.
If Michel lingers on the PUP list or struggles to return to football condition during camp, we’ll be debating his 2019 durability as much or more than Todd Gurley’s.
Julian Edelman | Left thumb injury | Active - PUP
Edelman suffered a thumb injury while catching a pass recently per a Monday ESPN report. Edelman is wearing a cast but sources did not confirm whether his injury is a fracture or sprain. He's expected to recover in the next "few weeks" and should be ready before camp ends. The thumb injury will not affect Edelman's conditioning and he will be at relatively low risk of reconditioning injury on his return. While the Patriots have already made roster decisions on some of their veterans, it's still possible Edelman is added to the Active - PUP list this week.
July 24 Update: The Patriots have placed Edelman on their Active - PUP list.
Julio Jones | Foot injury | Active Roster | Week-to-Week
Jones passed a pre-camp physical but is yet to practice. Dan Quinn told reporters Jones needs another 10-14 days before he'll be cleared for full practice. There's likely nothing to worry over here -- Jones says he did not require another surgical procedure this offseason and the Falcons did not start Jones on the PUP list. Still, reconditioning injuries are always a concern in veterans who miss camp practices in early August. I'll monitor Jones' practice participation carefully.
Emmanuel Sanders | Left Achilles tendon repair | December 2019 | Active Roster
Sanders isn't yet eight months removed from Achilles tendon surgery. While the odds for a productive recovery are better than they once were -- even for players on the far side of 30 years old -- his ability to pass an entrance physical and avoid starting camp on the PUP list is impressive.
The Broncos will hold Sanders out of team sessions and contact drills until some time in August. However, multiple observers, including our own Cecil Lammey, are impressed with Sanders' stop-start and change of direction in individual drills. It's too soon to expect a full and productive recovery for Sanders but the early reports are as hopeful as could be expected.
Phillip Lindsay | Right wrist fracture / ligament sprain | Active Roster
The Broncos were cautious with Lindsay throughout OTA and minicamp sessions but Lindsay was taking first-team reps on the first day of camp practice. There continue to be rumblings from Denver that Royce Freeman could play a bigger role in the Broncos' backfield this year, but Lindsay's health won't be the deciding factor in the rotation. There are also reports Lindsay may see more usage as a pass-catching back -- an unlikely development if the team was concerned about any loss of range of motion in his wrist.
Marquise Brown | Left Lisfranc reconstruction | January 2019 | Active - NFI
Though Brown was cleared for individual drills last month and John Harbaugh told reporters he was hopeful Brown would be ready for the start of camp, a seven-month recovery from Lisfranc surgery was always a tough ask. Last week, Ian Rapoport tweeted that Brown was "progressing well" and "should be ready in a few weeks."
While it's no surprise Brown is on the NFI list, Rapoport's tweet is concerning. Coaches commonly mislead the media about offseason injuries but Rapoport's report suggests Brown's return could be over a month further out than Harbaugh hoped. It's also notable that Brown was cleared for individual drills in June but may not be ready for camp practices until sometime in August. That disconnect raises the possibility of a rehab setback or reconditioning injury.
The NFI designation may also be just precautionary and Rapoport misreading a source when suggesting that Brown's return is still weeks away. We should know more soon.
DeAndre Hopkins | Right AC sprain | January 2019 | Active - PUP
Hopkins spent the offseason rehabbing multiple nagging injuries and starts training camp on the PUP list. There were no reports of concern through offseason workouts and Ian Rapoport tweeted that Hopkins is expected to be cleared to the active roster quickly.
***The Rams report to camp on Wednesday (rookies) and Friday (veterans). Many teams do entrance physicals on veterans with medical concerns on the day rookies report. So we'll learn whether Todd Gurley is healthy enough for camp practices shortly. Gurley is adamant he's healthy. Expect him to start camp on the active roster -- whether he's cleared for full participation is likely the more pressing question.
***Derrius Guice reportedly strained a hamstring some weeks ago. There has been speculation Guice, who continues to rehab from an August 2018 ACL reconstruction, may not be ready for camp. Guice implied on Twitter that fans shouldn't be freaking out over the hamstring setback. We'll know by the end of the week if Guice can pass an entrance physical or not. July 24 Update: Guice avoided the PUP list and has been cleared for full practice.
***Other key rehabbing players likely to start camp on the active roster include Christian McCaffrey, Travis Kelce, Cam Newton, A.J. Green, Carson Wentz, Cooper Kupp, Jimmy Garoppolo, Devonta Freeman, and Kerryon Johnson. July 24 Update: While we're awaiting final roster decisions from the Rams and Niners, all of these players will start camp on their team's active roster.
***Rehabbing players who will likely start camp on the PUP list include Jack Doyle and Bryce Love. July 24 Update: Doyle starts camp on the active roster but will be limited in practice early in camp.
July 24 Updates:
***Frank Gore starts camp on the NFI list. The Bills are limiting his practice exposure early in camp and his stay on the NFI list is not expected to last long.
***Jonnu Smith (December 2018 MCL sprain) and Ryquell Armstead (June 2019 hamstring strain) start on the PUP list. Both inclusions are notable. It's odd for an MCL sprain to require nearly eight months of rehab - either Smith's injury was more severe than reported or there's a simple conditioning issue that will resolve quickly. Armstead is now nearly six weeks removed from his offseason hamstring strain. He's at high risk of a reconditioning injury or aggravated strain when activated.
|Player||Team||Injury||Date||Player/Team Says||FBGs Expects||Notes|
|Andrew Luck||Ind||Calf strain||Offseason 2019||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Cam Newton||Car||Arthroscopic shoulder procedure||Late January 2019||Active Roster||Active Roster||Carolina limiting reps|
|Carson Wentz||Phi||Lumbar stress fracture||Mid-December 2018||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Jimmy Garoppolo||SF||Left ACL reconstruction||Early October 2018||Limited in OTAs||Probable for training camp|
|Marcus Mariota||Ten||Ulnar nerve contusion | Recurrent stinger||Multiple episodes 2018||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Andy Dalton||Cin||Right thumb ligament repair||Late November 2018||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Alex Smith||Was||Right tibia/fibula fixation | Post-surgical infection||Late November 2018 | Early December 2018||Active - PUP||Unlikely to return to NFL|
|Colt McCoy||Was||Right fibula fracture fixation | Follow up procedures||Early December 2018 | March & April 2019||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Player||Team||Injury||Date||Player/Team Says||FBGs Expects||Notes|
|Todd Gurley||LAR||Left knee inflammation||Recurrent 2018||Not participating in OTAs||Probable for training camp|
|Christian McCaffrey||Car||Shoulder surgery||Early offseason 2019||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Devonta Freeman||Atl||Core abdominal muscle repair||Mid-October 2018||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Ito Smith||Atl||Left knee meniscus repair||Mid-December 2018||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Sony Michel||NE||Chronic knee condition||June 2019||Active - PUP||Week-to-Week|
|Derrius Guice||Was||Left ACL reconstruction / Hamstring strain||Mid-August 2018 / June 2019||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Bryce Love||Was||Right ACL reconstruction||Mid-December 2018||Active - NFI||Month-to-Month|
|Phillip Lindsay||Den||Right wrist fracture / ligament sprain||Late December 2018||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Aaron Jones||GB||Right MCL sprain||Mid-December 2018||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Kerryon Johnson||Det||Left knee sprain||Mid-November 2018||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Jerick McKinnon||SF||Right ACL reconstruction||Mid-September 2018||Did not participate in OTAs||Probable for training camp|
|Matt Breida||SF||Pectoral muscle tear||Mid-May 2019||Did not participate in OTAs||Probable for training camp|
|Raheem Mostert||SF||Right forearm fracture||Early November 2018||Did not participate in OTAs||Probable for training camp|
|Bilal Powell||NYJ||Cervical microdiscectomy||Late October 2018||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Frank Gore||Buf||Left foot sprain||Mid-December 2018||Active - NFI||Day-to-Day|
|Chris Carson||Sea||Knee procedure||Offseason||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|C.J. Prosise||Sea||Core abdominal muscle repair||Early December 2018||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Miles Sanders||Phi||Hamstring strain||June 2019||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Josh Adams||Phi||Shoulder labrum repair||January 2019||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Corey Clement||Phi||Right knee sprain||Early December 2018||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Ryquell Armstead||Jac||Hamstring strain||Early June 2019||Active - PUP||Day-to-Day|
|Spencer Ware||Ind||Muscle strain||Summer 2019||Active - PUP | 1-2 weeks||Week-to-Week|
|Isaiah Crowell||Oak||Achilles tendon repair||Mid-May 2019||Injured reserve||Injured reserve|
|Jeremy Hill||FA||Right ACL reconstruction||Early November 2018||Free Agent||Free Agent||Not yet cleared|
|Jay Ajayi||FA||Left ACL reconstruction||Early October 2018||Free Agent||Free Agent||Cleared to practice|
|Rodney Anderson||Cin||Right ACL reconstruction||Late September 2018||Questionable for training camp||Questionable for training camp|
|Player||Team||Injury||Date||Player/Team Says||FBGs Expects||Notes|
|DeAndre Hopkins||Hou||Right AC sprain||Early January 2019||Active - PUP||Day-to-Day|
|Will Fuller||Hou||Right ACL reconstruction||Late October 2018||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Julio Jones||Atl||Foot injury||June 2019||Active Roster | 10-14 days||Week-to-Week|
|Mike Evans||TB||Hamstring strain||Early June 2019||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Julian Edelman||NE||Left thumb injury||June 2019||Active - PUP | 3-6 weeks||Week-to-Week||3-6 week recovery|
|A.J. Green||Cin||Right plantar plate repair||Early December 2018||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|John Ross||Cin||Tightness (unspecified)||Mid-May 2019||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Cooper Kupp||LAR||Left ACL reconstruction||Mid-November 2018||Did not participate in OTAs||Probable for training camp||Expected on active roster|
|Doug Baldwin||FA||Core abdominal muscle repair / Arthroscopic knee surgery||April 2019 / February 2019||Released by Seattle||Expected to officially retire|
|T.Y. Hilton||Ind||High ankle sprain||Recurrent 2018||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Deon Cain||Ind||ACL reconstruction||Early August 2018||Active Roster||Active Roster||Limited early in camp|
|Marvin Jones||Det||Right knee bone contusion||Mid-November 2018||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Kenny Golladay||Det||Chest injury||Late December 2018||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Anthony Miller||Chi||Left shoulder labrum repair||Mid-January 2019||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Emmanuel Sanders||Den||Left Achilles tendon repair||Early December 2018||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Christian Kirk||Ari||Left fifth metatarsal fixation||Early December 2018||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Marquise Brown||Bal||Left Lisfranc joint reconstruction||Early January 2019||Active - NFI||Week-to-Week|
|Miles Boykin||Bal||Hamstring strain||May 2019||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Paul Richardson Jr||Was||Right AC joint reconstruction||Early November 2018||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Demaryius Thomas||NE||Left Achilles repair||Late December 2018||Active - PUP||Week-to-Week|
|Marqise Lee||Jac||Left ACL reconstruction / PCL repair||Late August 2018||Active - PUP||Week-to-Week||May return late in camp|
|Albert Wilson||Mia||Right hip injury||Late October 2018||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Jakeem Grant||Mia||Achilles surgery||Late November 2018||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Deebo Samuel||SF||Hip injury||June 2019||Did not participate in OTAs||Probable for training camp|
|Torrey Smith||Car||Knee injury||Chronic||Active - PUP||Day-to-Day|
|Cole Beasley||Buf||Core abdominal muscle repair||April 2019||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Breshad Perriman||TB||Shoulder injury||May 2019||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Allen Hurns||FA||Left ankle dislocation / fibula fracture||Early January 2019||Free Agent||Free Agent||Cleared to practice|
|Mack Hollins||Phi||Core abdominal muscle repair||Early September 2018||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Nelson Agholor||Phi||Lower body injury||June 2019||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Cameron Meredith||NO||Arthroscopic knee surgery||Early November 2018||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Player||Team||Injury||Date||Player/Team Says||FBGs Expects||Notes|
|Travis Kelce||KC||Ankle surgery||Late February 2019||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Jack Doyle||Ind||Hip surgery||Late February 2019||Active Roster||Active Roster||Limited early in camp|
|Eric Ebron||Ind||Core abdominal muscle repair||April 2019||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Evan Engram||NYG||Undisclosed||Early June 2019||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Greg Olsen||Car||Right fifth metatarsal fracture fixation revision||Late December 2018||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Ian Thomas||Car||Leg injury||June 2019||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Hunter Henry||LAC||Right ACL reconstruction||Late May 2018||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Austin Hooper||Atl||Ankle injury||June 2019||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Delanie Walker||Ten||Right ankle dislocation/fibula fracture||Early September 2018||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Jonnu Smith||Ten||Left MCL sprain||Early December 2018||Active - PUP||Week-to-Week|
|Trey Burton||Chi||Core abdominal muscle repair||Early January 2019||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Hayden Hurst||Bal||Foot stress fracture / Hamstring strain||August 2018 / Early June 2019||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Tyler Kroft||Buf||Right foot fracture fixation revision||Late May 2019||Active - PUP||Week-to-Week|
|Cameron Brate||TB||Hip labrum repair||Mid-January 2019||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Tyler Eifert||Cin||Right ankle dislocation/fibula fracture||Late September 2018||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Jordan Reed||Was||Right toe sprain||Mid-December 2018||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Charles Clay||Ari||Knee injury||Summer 2019||Active - PUP||Day-to-Day|
|Garrett Celek||SF||Concussion||Late December 2018||Not participating in OTAs||Questionable for training camp||Yet to be cleared|
|Will Dissly||Sea||Right patellar tendon repair||Early October 2018||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Geoff Swaim||Jac||Left wrist fracture fixation||Mid-November 2018||Active Roster||Active Roster|
|Jake Butt||Den||Left ACL reconstruction||Late September 2018||Active Roster||Day-to-Day||Now missing practice|
|Austin Seferian-Jenkins||FA||Core abdominal muscle repair||Early October 2018||Free Agent||Free Agent|
DECIPHERING THE ALPHABET SOUP OF INJURY LISTS
Players not ready for camp practices are placed on one of two lists – Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) or Non-Football Injury/Illness (NFI).
Physically Unable to Perform (PUP)
Active/PUP – Preseason only list. Once a player participates in any part of a scheduled training camp practice, they are ineligible for this list. Players can be activated from this list at any time. This list is commonly used for veterans still recovering from injury and those who fail conditioning tests before camp begins.
Reserve/PUP – Regular season only list. Players still on Active/PUP at the end of camp are eligible to move to Reserve/PUP. Players cannot practice with the team until after Week 6. Teams then have six weeks to evaluate the player before moving to the active roster or to season-ending injured reserve.
Non-Football Injury / Illness (NFI)
Active/NFI – Preseason only list. Once a player participates in any part of a scheduled training camp practice, they are ineligible for this list. Players can be activated from this list at any time. Only veterans with a non-football related injury or rookies injured before the NFL draft are eligible for this list.
Reserve/NFI – Regular season only list. Players converted from the Active/NFI list to the Reserve/NFI list are out for the entire season.
Injured Reserve – Return Designation
Each NFL team can return two players to the active roster from injured reserve. Teams are not forced to designate this player at the time of the move to injured reserve. Players designated to return can begin practicing six weeks after being placed on injured reserve and are eligible to return to the active roster eight weeks after being placed on injured reserve. This rule allows a team to continually evaluate the rehab and recovery of their injured players and provides roster flexibility should teams have multiple key injuries early in the season.
Follow me on Twitter @JeneBramel for breaking injury news and analysis throughout the off-season.