The Cincinnati Bengals have moved linebacker Vontaze Burfict from the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list to the Reserve/PUP List. This means that Burfict no longer counts against the Bengals' roster count. It also means Burfict is now guaranteed to miss the first six games of the 2015 NFL season.
In case you need a refresher, 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 when they get 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 the player, or activate the player. Last season we saw this happen with AJ McCarron who was activated to the team's 53-man roster after opening the regular season with this designation.
After leading the team in tackles in 2012 and 2013, 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, 2014. 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, which was later revealed to be microfracture surgery.
The recovery time for this procedure is long and can often take up to a year to fully come back from. Burfict's placement on the Reserve/PUP list isn't a surprising move since it appeared all along the Bengals were going to take the conservative route with Burfict's recovery. Had he participated in even one practice in between the start of training camp and the regular-season opener, he would not have been eligible for PUP and would have counted as a player on the Bengals' 53-man roster.
By opening the year on PUP, Burfict is ineligible for the first six games, which include games at Oakland, vs San Diego, at Baltimore, vs Kansas City, vs Seattle, and at Buffalo. Once Burfict does come back, one of those above mentioned players could be cut to make room for him.