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Vikings Training Camp: The Difference Between PUP and NFI

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There are two different lists, but what’s the difference?

San Diego Chargers v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

At the start of Training Camp last year, we took a look at the two lists that NFL teams use for players that are not quite physically ready to go at the start of Training Camp. As the Minnesota Vikings utilized both of those lists at the start of camp this year, it’s worth our while to take a look at the differences between those two lists again.

We’ll start with the Physically Unable to Perform List, or PUP. The Vikings placed running back Latavius Murray and linebacker Shaan Washington on that list to start Monday’s camp session. This is likely where quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is also going to start his Training Camp, but the team doesn’t have to make a decision on that until Thursday, as Bridgewater will not report to Mankato until Wednesday with the rest of the team.

Here’s the description of the PUP list from the post we did last year.

The PUP List gives players who are unable to start Training Camp the ability to sit out until the team’s medical staff gives them the clearance to being practicing. This is generally done for players that had suffered an injury during the prior season that they’re still rehabbing from, such as Rhett Ellison with his patellar tendon issue. Any player placed on the PUP List is eligible to begin practicing again as soon as they’re given clearance.

Once a player practices during Training Camp, they are no longer eligible for the PUP List. If a player is taken off of the PUP List, they can’t be placed back on it. They would then have to go on Injured Reserve. During their time on the PUP List, players can go through conditioning drills and things of that nature, but they can’t practice with the team.

During the preseason, the PUP List is referred to as the Active/PUP List. If a player is still on the PUP List at the end of Training Camp, the team has the option to move him to the Reserve/PUP List. If a player is placed on the Reserve/PUP List, they must sit out the first six weeks of the regular season. When those six weeks are up, the team has three weeks to decide whether or not the player can begin practicing with the team. If the player does start practicing with the team, they then have three weeks from the date of their first practice to decide whether or not they want to add him to the 53-man roster. If they don’t do so, the player will revert to injured reserve and will be out for the rest of the season.

So, as it stands now, both Murray and Washington are on Active/PUP. I wouldn’t expect Murray to start the regular season on that list (and Washington is a bit of a longshot to make the team). Bridgewater, on the other hand. . .well, we’ve had that debate numerous times already, and it will probably continue until we get a definitive answer.

The Non-Football Injury List, which is where the Vikings placed defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, is not that much different.

As you can probably gather from the name, the NFI List is for injuries that happen outside of football, to include both the game field and the practice field. Obviously, Heinicke’s injury happened away from the field, and whatever issue Harris has (it’s currently being talked about as an illness) happened away from the field as well, which is why they’re on this list and not the PUP List.

One of the major distinctions that makes this list different from the PUP List is that a team can choose to not pay a player on the NFI List their base salary. The logic behind that is since the injury occurred outside of the context of football, the team shouldn’t be liable for providing compensation as a result. However, teams generally work out compensation deals with players on the NFI List.

Outside of that particular distinction, the NFI List is pretty similar to the PUP List. A player has to be placed on it prior to taking part in any practices, and if they remain on the list into the regular season, they have to miss the first six weeks. The rest of the NFI timeline is the same as the PUP timeline in terms of players practicing with the team and/or being moved to the 53-man roster.

This is the list that the team utilized last season for quarterback Taylor Heinicke (after he lost his Kung-Fu fight with an apartment door) and offensive lineman Mike Harris. Those injuries did not happen in the context of a football game, so they were candidates for the NFI rather than the PUP. As I speculated in an earlier post, I believe that Floyd was placed on this list and not PUP because while his knee injury did take place in the context of a football game, the nerve damage in his leg that he wound up with following the subsequent surgery was not.

Again, teams don’t have to make moves involving these lists until after players report to Training Camp, so these will likely not be the only names we see go onto the PUP or the NFI lists. But those are the main differences between the two.