Monday Injury Rounds: PUPdates

Who is active and practicing -- and who is not -- as training camps begin

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.


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.

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