Rookies and veterans report this week for camp. After their entrance physical and conditioning test, each player will either be cleared for the active roster or moved to the PUP or NFI list. Scroll to the bottom of this article to see exactly how those lists are defined.
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 in camp. 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. The new IR-return rule provides added flexibility, but teams won't close any doors for themselves sooner than absolutely necessary.
As training camp practices begin, new injuries will unfortunately occur. I'll be covering those in this space, too, as they occur. These feature articles will go live every evening after the NFL's official transactions are released. If you're interested in breaking analysis and discussion, follow my Twitter timeline or check out our new and exclusive Footballguys Channel on Sleeperbot, a desktop and mobile app where you can set up push notifications to get breaking news updates sent to you.
Andrew Luck | Active - PUP | Right shoulder labrum repair | mid January
I wrote extensively on Luck yesterday, speculating on how to parse reports on his progress from the spring and early summer. Today, the Colts placed Luck on their PUP list and provided some meaningful context on where his rehab currently stands.
General manager Chris Ballard told reporters Luck had begun throwing last week. More importantly, he stressed Luck "has not had any setbacks at all in his rehab process or with his surgery," and his deliberate rehab is "just part of the process ... his doctor and our trainers have set for him." In short, the Colts are maintaining that six months of strengthening before throwing has been the rehab plan from the start. As discussed yesterday, there's no reason to think this isn't a reasonable approach. Why rush your franchise quarterback in any way, knowing that any setback during the throwing program could jeopardize his availability for Week 1.