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Bengals place Vontaze Burfict, Margus Hunt and Sean Porter on PUP

In this mess of NFL acronyms, we wanted to articulate something: What's the Physically Unable to Perform list, what does it mean and how does it impact your team.

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  • The Cincinnati Bengals have announced defensive end Margus Hunt and linebackers Vontaze Burfict and Sean Porter will open training camp on the team's Active/Physically Unable to Perform list.
  • Rookie offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi was placed on the Active/Non-Football Injury list (Active/NFI). NOTE: For our purposes, NFI is similar to PUP with the biggest divergence being salary.

There are two forms of the PUP list. There's the Active/Physically Unable to Perform and the Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform. The difference is rather significant, which may have a meditative-like calming effect. Active/PUP relates to players being unable to start training camp with a football-related injury.

There is no rule governing players to sit out of practice for any amount of time when on the Active/PUP list. Once they are medically cleared, they're allowed to practice immediately. For example Burfict, Porter, Hunt and Ogbuehi are eligible to practice once Cincinnati's medical staff clears them. At this point heading into training camp, every mention of PUP you're seeing around the league, refers to the Active/PUP.

Once you've practiced...

Once a player practices during training camp, all options of the Physically Unable to Perform list are off the table. For example, wide receiver Antonio Bryant came into training camp in 2010 with a serious knee issue. Because he practiced on the first day of camp (nominated for dumbest idea ever), he wasn't allowed on PUP and Cincinnati ended up eating his signing bonus and releasing him. Had the team placed him on Active/PUP, he could have been eligible for the Reserve/PUP list and been allowed to rehabilitate before Cincinnati was required to make a decision.


Active/PUP is the less catastrophic designation, but it's also procedural for teams looking to place an injured player on the Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform list (players are ineligible if they are taken off the Active/PUP list and allowed to practice). If, by the end of the preseason, a player hasn't been medically cleared, he's transferred to the Reserve/PUP list.

Reserve/PUP list

The Reserve/PUP list prevents players from playing and practicing during the first six weeks of the season -- players also do not count against the 53-man roster with this designation. If the player isn't activated after the sixth week, the team has a three-week window to make a decision: remain on PUP for the rest of the season, release, or activate. Last season we saw this happen with AJ McCarron who was activated to the team's 53 man roster.

Bengals Players Placed on PUP today

Burfict suffered a knee injury against the Baltimore Ravens on October 29, 2014 and underwent arthroscopic surgery soon after. When his knee wasn't responding to rehabilitation, he was placed on season-ending Injured Reserve on December 9. The Pro Bowl linebacker contemplated surgery at the end of the season to repair what wasn't fixed in October. Marvin Lewis confirmed that he went ahead with the procedure and he has been rehabilitating ever since.

Sean Porter is clearly Cincinnati's hard luck story right now. A former fourth round pick during the 2013 NFL draft, Porter suffered a season-ending torn labrum only days after training camp started during his rookie season. A knee injury impacted training camp last season and forced him to miss two preseason games. A hamstring injury during the preseason finale put him on the shelf through the first three games of the season.

Porter, finally healthy, was active during Cincinnati's Sunday Night game against the New England Patriots. Cincinnati kicked off to New England and after the Patriots took a knee, Porter hobbled back to the sidelines with what's been described as a "non-contact injury." He tore an ACL.

Defensive end Margus Hunt re-aggravated a preexisting back injury lifting weights earlier this season, forcing him to miss spring practices.