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The differences between the PUP list and NFI list

And what they mean for five members of the Vikings

San Francisco 49ers v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

We’ve officially hit the first practice of Minnesota Vikings Training Camp for 2019, but there are five players that are not fully able to participate because the Vikings have placed them on a couple of different lists.

The team has placed cornerback Mike Hughes, tight end David Morgan, and wide receiver Brandon Zylstra on the Physically Unable to Perform List (or “Reserve/PUP”). They have also put defensive end Tashawn Bower and defensive tackle Shamar Stephen on the Non-Football Injury List (or “Reserve/NFI”).

These two lists, for the most part, are similar. The PUP list is, generally, for players that had suffered an injury during the previous season and are still in the process of rehabbing that injury. We know about Hughes’ issues as he recovers from the torn ACL he suffered in Week 6 of the 2018 season, and Morgan dealt with some injury issues last season as well, missing several games. He was active near the end of the season, though, so it’s unclear if there are still lingering effects from his injury. Neither Morgan nor Hughes participated in any of the OTAs this offseason, so this is a continuation of that. The reports online are indicating a left hamstring issue for Zylstra, but if we get more clarification we’ll pass it along to everyone. It’s possible that he suffered the injury during OTAs or mini-camp.

The NFI list, on the other hand, is for injuries that happen outside of the scope of the game of football. We saw an example of that a couple of years ago when quarterback Taylor Heinicke got into a fight with his friend’s apartment door. . .and lost. There has been no indication what has necessitated them being placed on this list, if we get clarification on what either Bower or Stephen are dealing with, we’ll pass it along.

Protocols for player participation in practice is similar whether they’ve been placed on PUP or NFI. Both of those lists mean that they can’t participate in practices with the team until they are medically cleared to do so. Once a player has participated in a practice with the team, they are no longer eligible for PUP or NFI, and when a player comes off the list they can’t be placed back on it again. A significant injury that occurs after a player has started practicing results in them being placed on Injured Reserve and, likely, being done for the season.

If the preseason concludes and any of the five players listed remain on the NFI or PUP lists, they are automatically forced to sit out the first six games of the 2019 season. They would not count against the 53-man roster at that point, but would still not be able to participate in team practices until they are removed from the lists. There are all sorts of deadlines for when players need to start practicing that are connected to their removal from those lists, but we can cross those bridges if and when the time comes.

The one significant difference is that if a player is on the NFI list, the team can choose not to pay out their base salary. The logic behind that, presumably, is that if the injury occurs outside of the scope of the game of football, the team should not be on the hook to provide compensation. That’s my understanding, anyway.

With that, practices are officially underway at the Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center. We’ll be doing everything we can to track any significant developments from Eagan and bringing them to you here as quickly as possible.