Over the next week, I'll be updating this page daily with any major injury news as teams decide whether to hold their injured players out of practice or clear them to return to the active roster. Check back for the latest roster moves and injury analysis as we approach the first week of preseason games. Scroll to the bottom of the page for a quick primer on the league's injury designations and why teams use the PUP list.
Also, last week's update, which included notes on the rise of social media rehab posts, why compensatory injuries are so common early in camp, and one final pre-camp update on key injury situations around the league, can be found here.
This will be the last update to the PUPdates blog. All 32 teams are now in camp and practicing. Intake physicals and conditioning tests are complete and roster decisions have been made. With luck, the see-saw of injury news will lean heavily toward reports of players cleared to practice over the next 7-10 days rather than reports of players suffering serious injury.
But before we move toward the usual weekly schedule of updating player injuries in the moment and analyzing player return timetables, there are lots of news items from the past 48 hours to clean up.
Before we get to those, I hope you'll indulge a quick aside...
When I'm not squinting at NFL game tape frame-by-frame to try to glean a needed injury detail, I work with an amazing team of folks in a pediatric clinic. The past months have been difficult, but the last few days have been particularly trying for some of the children and families we work with. I'm not reaching out for help here and I'm not asking for sympathy or thanks. Rather, I'm hoping I can inspire you to hug your children a little tighter than usual this week, put aside a difference you've had with a family member, or take an extra moment to make eye contact and listen carefully to those around you this week.
Also, keep Cecil Lammey's family and Maurile Tremblay in your thoughts this week. Cecil and Maurile represent the very best of Footballguys. Both could use the support of our amazing community.
Thanks, y'all. It's only a keyboard connection. But I appreciate you.
Sunday, July 31
TYLER EIFERT | DELTOID LIGAMENT REPAIR | MAY 2016 | PUP
I didn’t expect to read anything useful information on Eifert during camp. The Bengals are tight with injury information and Marvin Lewis opened camp by giving reporters Eifert his usual non-specific update: Eifert was working hard in rehab and would return when he’s ready. But Eifert was allowed to talk to reporters this weekend. And one of them was observant.
While there were no specific reports on Eifert’s surgery, I speculated that Eifert had a ligament or ligaments on the outside of his ankle repaired. That’s the more common injury and surgery and one more consistent with the 3-4 month timetable initially given. I’ve also been arguing that the 3-4 month timetable was optimistic, even for that surgical procedure.
While most of his colleagues were focused on Eifert saying he’d never participate in the Pro Bowl again, Jay Morrison included a crucial detail in his story. Eifert’s scar is on the inside of his ankle. His procedure was to fix the deltoid ligament, specifically to address ongoing pain and instability. That’s a procedure that his surgeon, Dr. Robert Anderson, has told colleagues usually requires a 5-6 month recovery period, even in professional athletes.
The report also includes a note that Eifert will be out of his walking boot this week. That’s expected. It takes 6-8 weeks for the repaired ligament to heal. But the most important and careful stages of rehab begin now, with therapists slowly working to help Eifert regain strength and range of motion. It’s possible Eifert will be cleared to run and cut in the next 4-6 weeks and miss only 1-2 regular season games. But five months from surgery would be late October. That means it’s just as likely Eifert will remain on inseason PUP to continue his rehab and recovery.
Le'Veon Bell | MCL/PCL Repair | November 2015 | Active Roster
Not long ago, the primary concern with Bell was how he’d recover from the second significant injury to his right knee in two years. Offseason reports were optimistic and Bell fully recovered from his 2014 injury, but a multi-ligament injury requiring surgery isn’t a slam dunk recovery. But Bell was cleared to participate in practice immediately. Even more reassuringly, Bell has now practiced three consecutive days in a planned rotation without any swelling or soreness limiting his reps.
It’s now the four game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy that has fans and fantasy owners worried. Bell must avoid any re-conditioning injuries, but it would appear we can put knee injury concerns behind us once again.
Julio Jones | Foot Injury | July 28 | Day-to-Day
It’s my favorite camp story. A player limps off the field during practice. The injury is called a “tweak” by team personnel with the expectation the player will return the following day. The player misses an extra day or two of practice, while the team says they are playing it safe with the recovery process. Later, a comment or photograph or ongoing absence reveals the injury to be more than a “tweak.”
Okay, it’s not my favorite camp story. And caution isn’t always a negative in this case. But, at minimum, it warrants more discussion.
And that’s where we are with Jones. Sunday morning, Vaughn McClure posted an image of Jones standing on the sideline with a roller under the arch of his left foot. As David Chao tweeted, that’s often part of the rehab process for plantar fascia pain. Jones was in full pads in the image and reportedly participated in practice, so it’s unlikely he’s dealing with a major injury. Expect the Falcons to remain cautious with Jones. If Chao’s diagnosis is correct, the team will want to limit the chance of aggravations in what can quickly become a chronic condition.
Also reassuringly, the image shows treatment to the left foot. Jones’ prior foot surgeries were to his right foot.
Sammy Watkins | Metatarsal Fixation | April 2016 | PUP
As expected, the Bills put Watkins on the PUP list to start camp. The final stages of his rehab have gone well. Watkins passed the team’s conditioning test this weekend. ESPN’s Josina Anderson tweeted Friday that a source told her the Bills planned to “break Sammy in slowly, turn him loose in a week.” While I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t test the football gods by “breaking” Watkins in at any speed, all indications are that Watkins will meet his goal of being ready for Week 1, if not sooner.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record – probably time for a new analogy here, isn’t it? – Watkins’ focus will be on avoiding any reconditioning injuries in camp.
Thomas Rawls | Ankle Injury | December 2015 | PUP
The Seahawks have been hinting throughout the offseason that Rawls wouldn’t be pushed early in camp with the goal being healthy and prepared for Week 1. So, it’s no surprise Rawls started camp on PUP, even if most reports over the past 2-3 months have been positive. Pete Carroll essentially told reporters Rawls was day-to-day in a weekend press conference. While that’s probably my least favorite early camp phrase – all too often, one day equals one week in camp vocabulary – I don’t expect Rawls to miss much practice time. Carroll said the team was approaching the first days of camp in a four-day block, after which they have a planned break in camp practice. Rawls’ progress will be re-evaluated then. If the Seahawks are still showing caution next week, we’ll re-evaluate, too.
Arian Foster | Achilles Repair | October 2015 | PUP > Active Roster
It was something of a roller coaster for Foster this week. Adam Gase started last week’s press conference by implying that Foster would not be put on PUP after passing a physical before signing his contract. He then backed off his statement later in the session. Foster ultimately did start camp on the PUP list, only to be activated the following day. On Sunday, Miami’s strength and conditioning coach said Foster “annihilated” his conditioning test.
I don’t know what to make of any of that, but it was fun to type.
In the end, Foster needs to avoid a muscle strain during training camp. He hasn’t been able to do that in four years. Hopefully, this year’s preseason workouts go much more smoothly.
Steve Smith | Achilles Repair | November 2015 | PUP
Smith’s Achilles’ tear – he called it a double rupture this week – was arguably the worst Dr. Robert Anderson ever treated. His wife said Anderson described it as raw, shredded chicken. Surgeons do not completely replace the Achilles’ tendon with a graft like they do in ACL repair. They sew it back together. I have no idea how you sew shredded chicken together and re-approximate the usual tension in the tendon.
Somehow, Smith was cleared to weight bear in eight weeks. That’s in line with the expected progress of players returning from Achilles’ repair. He’s been doing one-legged box jumps using his injured leg for some time. It sounds like a minor medical miracle. If Smith returns to the NFL, whether he’s able to play effectively or not, he’s going to be a case study in orthopedic journals.
I’d never, ever bet against Smith. But an injury this extensive is going to be tough to put behind him.
Jimmy Graham | Patellar Tendon Repair | November 2015 | PUP
The best case scenario on recovery from patellar tendon repair is around 8-9 months. We’re just getting to the eight month mark with Graham. While his rehab has reportedly been smooth, it would have been shocking to see him avoid the PUP list. The Seahawks need to keep their roster options open with Graham, who could easily require the extra six weeks afforded him by staying on the inseason PUP list. If he’s activated in camp at any point, it’s a great sign but not a guarantee he’s returned to full form.
Dez Bryant | Metatarsal Fixation | January 2016 | Active Roster
Bryant should be fully recovered from surgery to revise his September 2015 metatarsal fixation and it’s nice to see him on the active roster and practicing. But the negative tone of his offseason reports continue. His conditioning and preparation before the 2015 season were questioned this spring. Early notes on his training camp work include concerns about rust and dropped passes. There’s plenty of time for Bryant to get into form by Week 1, so don’t panic here. But it’d be nice to see the undercurrent of concern settle soon.
Adrian Peterson | Hamstring Strain | July 2016 | Week-to-Week
Matt Forte | Hamstring Strain | July 2016 | Week-to-Week
Muscle strains are a daily occurrence in the NFL, especially to skill position players. Teams commonly suggest their players are day-to-day with camp injuries. The only way we’ll know whether Peterson or Forte have a higher grade strain is to monitor their progress. If a veteran is held out longer than 7-10 days, it’s time to prepare for a 3-4 week absence. More on Peterson and Forte – and others assuredly to come – as the days progress.
Wide Receiver Followup
Odell Beckham was cleated on his shin during practice on Sunday. That’s a painful injury that will warrant close observation. Don’t panic if the Giants hold him out for more than a day or two. Victor Cruz made it through consecutive practices before getting a scheduled day off Sunday. His progress is reassuring, but he’s yet to prove he’s capable of beating NFL cornerbacks. Ryan Mathews won’t be back until later this week. Josh Doctson seems to be progressing well as trainers closely watch his recovery after challenging him with individual work while on the PUP list. Julian Edelman continues to progress in his recovery. He’s been observed aggressively conditioning while the Patriots practice. Some camp observers think he’ll be activated off PUP soon.
Ladarius Green | Ankle Surgery | Before March 2016 | PUP
This weekend, Green revealed that he required two plates in his ankle to help stabilize a tendon injury. I'm confused here. There are tendons around the ankle that can require stabilization, but I’m not aware of a surgery in which plates are used. My original speculation on Green after last season’s injury was a high ankle injury. Those injuries are sometimes stabilized with plates and screws, but it’s a ligament repair. Most commonly, plates are used to fix fractures, which could apply to a high grade high ankle injury.
Whatever the underlying injury is here, Green’s progress mirrors that of many other NFL players who undergo ankle surgery. Improvement and optimism early in the recovery, agonizingly slow progress toward the end. Recovery timetables after many ankle surgeries are reported in the 3-4 month or 5-6 month range. Time and again, players push the back end of that recovery timetable. Assuming Green underwent surgery in January (the date of surgery has never been reported), Green is past the six month timetable now. And he told Jeremy Fowler this weekend that he’s still not able to cut to his or the team’s satisfaction. There’s still work to be done here.
Mike Wallace | Conditioning | PUP > Active Roster
Karlos Williams | Conditioning | July 2016 | NFI
Darren McFadden | Elbow Fracture | June 2016 | NFI
Wallace’s stay on the PUP list was short-lived. He passed conditioning muster in Baltimore this weekend and was moved to the active roster. Williams is reportedly close to his playing weight and should be activated this week. The Cowboys put McFadden on NFI as expected and still hope to have him return ahead of Week 1.
Justin Houston | ACL/LCL Repair | February 2016 | PUP
DeAndre Levy | Hip Surgery | August 2015 | NFI
Jaylon Smith | ACL/LCL Repair : Peroneal Nerve Injury | January 2016 | NFI
Houston was given a wide 6-12 month timetable after his February surgery. It’s difficult for players with isolated ACL injuries to return in six months and would have been impossible for Houston to accomplish a similar feat. It would be a surprise to see Houston return to play within 8-9 months and it’s likely we’ll see him still on the PUP list when the season starts.
The Lions are minimizing Levy’s appearance on the NFI list. But the veteran linebacker participated in May OTAs and the team’s minicamp workouts. There was no explanation for why the team chose to put him on NFI to start camp. Jim Caldwell would give the standard lines – we anticipate he’ll be ready soon, we’d tell you if it was a long term issue, we just want to be careful, prudent, etc. This is a situation to watch carefully.
Smith’s progress remains stalled. In late June, Ed Werder reported Smith’s nerve had not improved and the rookie linebacker was still in a special orthotic to stabilize his foot. Jerry Jones says Smith’s rehab is not behind. That may eventually prove true. But the longer the nerve tissue takes to recover, the less likely it is that it ever will to the extent necessary to allow Smith to resume an NFL playing career. 2017 remains Smith’s most optimistic ETA.
Thursday, July 28
With half of the league in camp and readying for workouts, we're now hearing about injuries during practice. Some of these injuries will be serious -- Jordy Nelson and Kelvin Benjamin were injured in the early days of camp last season -- but don't overreact to Twitter reports of a player being carted off the field. Many times, it's a precautionary move and the injury is minor. If the reports are accompanied by phrases like "players gathered around the down player" or "seems to be a high level of concern from the team" or a similar tone, pay attention. Otherwise, positive news is likely coming at the end of practice.
You should also prepare to hear the term "tweak" often. It will be necessary to read between the lines on many of these reports. Some tweaks are truly minor and of little concern. But "tweak" can also be used when a team is trying to minimize a significant injury, i.e. mid-grade muscle strain. Tweaks generally don't require MRI studies. Tweaks generally don't keep players out for multiple practices. Have a healthy dose of skepticism for these situations, but patiently watching for further developments is all-important.
Remember, information moves at light speed on Twitter, but the first reports are commonly limited information only.
Julio Jones | Tweak | July 28 | Day-to-Day
Here is why I led with those opening paragraphs. Reports of Julio Jones leaving practice early today had Twitter abuzz. As further information leaked, Jones' injury was termed a "tweak" but no additional details were reported. Dan Quinn later told reporters that Jones tried to return to practice and would be back to practice tomorrow. It's a reassuring line for the head coach to take. There's no reason for Quinn to risk the followup questions he'd get by replying this way if there's was much doubt on the severity of Jones' tweak.
Thomas Rawls | Ankle Surgery | December 2015
Jimmy Graham | Patellar Tendon Repair | November 2015
The Seahawks haven't formalized their active roster decisions yet, but John Schneider told reporters today that both Rawls and Graham won't be available to practice immediately. It's a strong hint both will start camp on PUP. Rawls had been positive throughout the summer, but it's no surprise the Seahawks will take their time with the only running back on the current roster who's had more than fleeting NFL success.
Schneider reiterated the party line pushed by Pete Carroll all offseason: Both players are expected to be ready to start the regular season. I'm less optimistic on Graham. Unless Rawls' time on PUP lingers into the third week of camp or he suffers a re-conditioning injury, I think we'll see him ready for regular duty in early September.
Victor Cruz | Calf Strain | November 2015 | Active Roster
This is the first positive news on Cruz in many, many months. Cruz will be at practice on Friday as he attempts to put a 2014 patellar tendon tear and multiple 2015 high-grade calf strains behind him. I'm rooting for him to prove he's fully recovered, but he has two major hurdles to overcome in the coming days and weeks. First, he must avoid another compensatory injury and that's far from a foregone conclusion. Second, he'll have to show he's regained enough of the short area quickness and explosion he used to separate one of the league's premier slot receivers.
Josh Doctson | Achilles Strain | May 2016 | PUP
Major tendon strains are significant injuries and the Washington medical staff will not risk their first round draft pick until he's without pain and regains full range of motion. Jay Gruden told reporters today the team wasn't satisfied with Doctson's recovery yet, but implied the young wide receiver wasn't far away from a return.
Beat writers noted Doctson doing footwork drills to the side at less than full speed. That would imply he is close to a return. But now nearly two months into rehab, it's difficult to put a timetable on Doctson's full recovery. And we've seen aggravated injuries to rookie wide receivers in each of the past two seasons. Odell Beckham struggled through a worse-than-reported hamstring strain his rookie offseason. and Kevin White's stress reaction eventually required surgery last year. It's too early to speculate on Doctson's eventual return, but consider him more week-to-week than day-to-day for now.
Mike Wallace | Failed Conditioning Test | July 2016 | NFI
Not much to report here. Wallace's stay on NFI should be a short one. You can bet the Ravens are more frustrated with Wallace than you are.
Ladarius Green | Ankle Surgery | ? January 2016 | PUP
The Steelers have had little to say about Green's status since they signed him. There's not been a clearly negative report yet -- the Steelers felt good enough about Green to sign him in the early stages of free agency, Green was seen weight bearing throughout the offseason workouts, lots of recovering players get a few extra days with the training staff as camp begins -- but this remains a situation to watch closely. Recovery from ankle surgery almost always takes longer than the player and team tell you.
Kenneth Dixon | MCL Sprain | July 28 | Week-to-Week
Dixon suffered a low grade MCL sprain in practice today. Low grade sprains are much better than high grade sprains, and low grade MCL injuries are often given a 10-14 day timetable. But the range is wide. Some players return within seven days, others aren't ready for contact for 3-4 weeks. Expect the Ravens to be cautious here. Risking a cascade injury makes no sense in late July.
Wednesday, July 27
It was a quiet day on the injury front. No reports of new injuries and no surprising reports on players still recovering from earlier injuries. We'll take those when we can get them.
Jamaal Charles | ACL Repair | October 2015 | PUP
The Chiefs had been hinting for weeks that Charles would be eased back into active duty and followed through on that plan today. It's hard to say how long Charles will stay on the PUP list. Like many other veterans below, we're likely to see very little of the Kansas City stud running back as he recovers from his second ACL tear. There's little reason for concern here. Every report on Charles' rehab was positive and Andy Reid isn't worried about Charles missing camp practices. He said today, "Missing a few reps isn't going to hurt. The important thing is he gets back strong."
Charles joins the list of players who must be watched carefully for re-conditioning injuries in August.
Kelvin Benjamin | ACL Repair | August 2015 | Active Roster
Unlike Dion Lewis, Jamaal Charles, and Jordy Nelson, Benjamin was deemed in football-ready condition by the Panthers and will be eligible to practice immediately. In reality, Benjamin isn't likely to practice much more than Lewis, Charles, and Nelson. Expect the Panthers to work Benjamin into individual reps only early in camp and slowly return him to full contact drills.
Ryan Mathews | Ankle Injury | July 2016 | NFI
The Eagles didn't release any details on Mathews' injury other than to note it occurred last week. Ian Rapoport and Les Bowen reported the injury to be a simple sprained ankle suffered while training in advance of camp. Though it's minor, injuries like this won't quiet critics of Mathews' long injury history. The current belief is Mathews' stay on NFI will be short.
Tuesday, July 26
Another six teams made PUP and NFI decisions today, but it's again Jordy Nelson who generated the biggest news of the day.
Jordy Nelson | Knee Tendinitis | July 2016 | PUP
So much for "no report of a re-conditioning injury" since Green Bay's workouts in June. Today, multiple media members tweeted that Nelson was added to the Packers' PUP list with an injury to his other knee. Nelson called it a "hiccup" that occurred during while working out and ESPN's Ed Werder soon added that the Packers believe Nelson is dealing with tendinitis due to overcompensating during rehab.
Clearance to bear weight, jog, sprint, then return to football-related activities are critical stages in the rehab of every injured player. But the final stages of rehab are when these elite athletes open it up and push the limits of their recovery. Compensatory and re-conditioning injuries are unfortunately common.
The specific nature of Nelson's knee tendinitis isn't clear. It could be, and most likely is, an irritation of his patellar tendon. But there are other tendons around the knee that may be inflamed when a player uses his joint in subtly different ways while subconsciously protecting another injured area of the body. If not allowed to fully heal, these are injuries that can linger or recur.
Nelson was cleared to speak with reporters in the locker room today. That's a reassuring sign. It (nearly always) means the team isn't worried about what a player might reveal about his injury. Nelson told reporters he'd already said more than he wanted to about his injury, but said there was no reason to "freak out" and he expected to be ready for the regular season.
Consider Nelson week-to-week. The Packers will be in no hurry to move him to the active roster.
Arian Foster | Achilles Repair | October 2015 | Active Roster
Miami head coach Adam Gase addressed the media today and took questions about his injured players. That now includes Arian Foster, who the Dolphins recently signed to an incentive-laden contract. Gase said Foster wouldn't start camp on the PUP list, but later softly backtracked and said not every player had gone through a physical yet. That's probably a non-issue for Foster, who had to pass a physical before the team signed him.
However, it's worth noting here that until a player is still eligible for the PUP list until he participates in a training camp practice. Should something seem off with Foster in his pre-practice conditioning testing, the Dolphins may yet decide to add him to the PUP list.
Josh Gordon | Quad Strain | Summer 2016 | NFI
Reinstated but facing a conditional four game suspension to start the season, Gordon reported to training camp with a quad strain and did not pass his physical. The severity of the strain isn't known, but the tone of today's reports (occurred this "summer" without an immediate return estimate) suggest it's a mid-grade injury. The Browns won't rush Gordon back, but he cannot have any contact with the team during his four game suspension and they will want to get him into drills with their quarterbacks as soon as possible.
Tyler Eifert | Ankle Surgery | May 2016 | PUP
This was an expected move. You can also expect to get only vague snippets of information on Eifert's status until well into the preseason. Early reports of a 6-8 week timetable were aggressively optimistic. I think Eifert's recovery is much more likely to be in the 12-16 week (3-4 month) range. That means the more important decision will come near the end of training camp when the Bengals will have to decide whether Eifert will need more than four months of rehab. If that's the case, we may see Eifert moved to the inseason PUP list.
Donte Moncrief | Turf Toe Surgery | March 2016 | Active Roster
Gary Barnidge | Core Abdominal Surgery | June 2016 | Active Roster
While there was optimism on both Moncrief and Barnidge, both players were in jeopardy of missing the start of camp without a smooth and successful rehab. And although both were healthy enough to avoid the PUP list today, it's likely their teams will exercise caution and limit their reps early in camp.
Tyrann Mathieu | ACL Repair | December 2015 | PUP
I'm partial to the defensive side of the ball, so Mathieu's statement -- "I'll be off that list shortly. I got work to do." -- is my favorite quote of the day.
Mathieu is eager to prove he's recovered from his second ACL tear in three years (ACL/LCL in December 2013), but the Cardinals know how vital he is to their defensive scheme. It'll be a mild surprise to see Mathieu participate in any preseason games, but he is fully expected to be ready for Week 1.
Monday, July 25
A handful of teams -- Baltimore, Houston, Denver, New England, New Orleans, Detroit, and Oakland -- have already opened camp to rookies. On Tuesday, the Green Bay Packers will be the first team to check veteran players into camp. The rest of the league will report over the next few days and all players will be in camp by July 30.
Jordy Nelson | ACL repair | August 2015 | PUP
Nelson was reportedly running routes before the 2015 regular season ended. He's now nearly eleven months removed from his ACL injury during training camp last summer, with most players ready to return to action in nine months, if not sooner. There were no concerns with his rehab and he was expected to participate in camp. Yet Nelson will begin camp on the Packers' PUP list.
I expected Nelson to start camp on the active roster. But this is precisely why I wrote the first paragraph in the "Why Teams Use the PUP List" vignette above. The Packers' medical staff is among the most conservative in the league. It's a sentence I write regularly and one you shouldn't read into too much. It's not a bad thing. But from Aaron Rodgers' collarbone to Randall Cobb's leg to Nelson himself with a minor knee condition three years ago, the Packers choose to return players to contact only when they're certain the player is ready to return.
The Packers allowed Nelson to run routes at speed and catch passes from Aaron Rodgers in June but did not clear him for team drills. There has been no report of a setback or re-conditioning injury since those workouts. Nelson is likely being given a few extra days to convince the medical staff he's in condition for contact. I expect Nelson to be cleared for practice quickly. If his absence stretches longer than a week or the team seems evasive when questioned, it's time to give Nelson's status a more critical eye.
J.J. Watt | Microdiscectomy | July 2016 | PUP
Specific details on Watt's surgical procedure have not yet been disclosed. But all evidence suggests he had a microdiscectomy, a procedure in which a portion of herniated, inflamed disc material is removed to relieve pain, weakness, or numbness. Multiple writers reported Watt had been dealing with a herniated disc over the past two seasons and the initial timetable given for Watt's return -- six weeks -- would have been much too optimistic for other disc-related procedures.
Still, the early timetable for Watt is very optimistic here. While there are reports of athletes returning to play within 6-8 weeks, most football players take 10-12 weeks to recover. This surgery is commonly done shortly after the season ends, but there are two good comparisons here. Jason Pierre-Paul had a discectomy in early June 2013 and didn't return until Week 1. He struggled to find his form until later in the season and recently said the recovery from the back surgery was harder on him than his blast injury and finger amputation. Dontari Poe underwent discectomy in mid-July 2015 and returned in Week 1 (mid-September). He later told reporters said he didn't feel right until October.
While superhuman, it's too much to expect Watt to return to full form by Week 1. Like Poe and Pierre-Paul, it's much more likely Watt won't be himself until October.
Dion Lewis | ACL repair | November 2015 | PUP
Legarrette Blount | Hip Injury | December 2015 | Active Roster
The Patriots heavily use the PUP list every year. It's a surprise when a New England player recovering from injury or in need of any additional conditioning is not on the PUP list in late July.
While New England is very quiet with injury updates, all accounts are that Lewis' recovery from ACL surgery last year has gone well. Like Nelson, Lewis will likely be activated and cleared for practice relatively soon. The bigger surprise here is that Blount was not put on the PUP list to start camp. Technically, he's not ineligible until he dresses and participates in a training camp practice. But the Patriots clearly believe he's ready for contact. With rumblings Blount may not be guaranteed a roster spot, the Patriots may be pushing to see whether Blount's hip issues are truly behind him.
Julian Edelman | Metatarsal Fracture Fixation/Revision | May 2016 | PUP
Danny Amendola | Knee/Ankle Surgery | ??? | PUP
Though the recovery of Dez Bryant and Sammy Watkins from metatarsal surgeries have drawn more attention, it's Edelman who had surgery most recently. Edelman's revision procedure was performed in early May. Most players take 10-12 weeks to recover from these revision procedures, which means the Patriots aren't likely to activate Edelman until sometime in August. It's possible we won't see much of Edelman in camp at all, but he should be ready for Week 1.
Neither of Amendola's offseason surgeries is believed to have been serious and he reportedly looked healthy in June. But removal of bone spurs in the ankle and any arthroscopic knee procedure raises concern for degenerative joint conditions. Chronic pain, swelling, and stiffness may all plague Amendola again this year. The sooner Amendola returns to the active roster and participates in practice, the better for his 2016 outlook.
Breshad Perriman | PCL Repair | August 2015 | PUP
Steve Smith | Achilles Repair | November 2015 | PUP
No surprises here. I'll remain skeptical on Perriman until we see the Baltimore medical staff clear him for full contact. Rehab and recovery after Achilles' tendon surgery commonly takes 8-9 months. Smith isn't expected back until late in the preseason at best, but there remains hope he'll be ready for Week 1.
Joe Flacco | ACL/MCL Repair | December 2015 | Active Roster
Terrell Suggs | Achilles Repair | September 2015 | PUP
Jared Cook | Metatarsal Fixation | June 2016 | PUP
These three decisions were also expected. I don't expect the Ravens to allow anyone near Joe Flacco for many weeks, but he's recovered well enough to participate in non-contact drills, condition his throwing arm, and work on timing with his receivers as much as possible. Suggs is reportedly on target for a Week 1 return. Cook, like Edelman and Watkins, will need 8-12 weeks to recover from metatarsal surgery. The Packers are hopeful he'll be ready for Week 1.
Drew Brees | Plantar Fascia Tear | December 2015 | Active Roster
Aaron Rodgers | Arthroscopic Knee Surgery | January 2016 | Active Roster
Mark Ingram | Rotator Cuff Repair | December 2015 | Active Roster
Justin Forsett | Forearm Fracture | November 2015 | Active Roster
Ameer Abdullah | Shoulder Labrum Repair | January 2016 | Active Roster
There was an outside chance Abdullah would start training camp on the PUP list, but he's on the active roster for Detroit. Brees, Rodgers, Ingram, and Forsett had returned this preseason to participate in OTA and minicamp workouts and were fully expected to begin camp on their team's active roster.
Deciphering the Alphabet Soup of Injury Designations
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
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
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
The NFL changed the IR-Return rule this offseason. Previously, a team was allowed to return one player from their injured reserve list each season. That player had to be designated at the time he was placed on injured reserve. This season, teams will no longer be forced to designate a player to return at the time of the move to injured reserve. While each team can only return one player from their injured reserve list, they can choose to activate any player who has spent at least six weeks on the injured reserve list. The player designated to return can begin practicing six weeks after being placed on injured reserve and is first eligible to return to the active roster eight weeks after being placed on injured reserve.
Why Teams Use the PUP List
Don’t overreact to these designations. Every team uses their PUP list differently. Years ago, players put on the PUP list were those unlikely to be cleared for practice in camp. Most would transition to the regular season PUP list or injured reserve. In recent seasons, many teams make heavy use of their PUP list. 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 you’re 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. The new IR-return rule provides added flexibility, but teams won't close any doors for themselves sooner than absolutely necessary.
Check back for more injury analysis throughout training camp and follow on Twitter @JeneBramel for breaking injury news, commentary and analysis of injury news around the NFL.