Every spring, heading into the NFL draft, college fans are surprised to discover which quarterbacks have won the pros’ hearts. Ryan Tannehill over Russell Wilson, huh? Mitch Trubisky over Deshaun Watson, huh? Jared Goff over … any of these other guys, huh?
Instead, those players go on the Active/Non-Football Injury list. The Broncos placed two rookies on the NFI list this week: tight end Jake Butt, who tore his ACL in Michigan’s Orange Bowl loss last December, and Chad Kelly, who underwent wrist surgery before he was drafted.
The rules on when a player can return from NFI are the same as PUP. But if a player is cleared from the NFI or PUP list, he can’t be placed back on that list after the fact. The team will either have to cut the player or place him on injured reserve.
The time for concern is when a player can’t get off the PUP list before the end of the preseason. If he’s still on PUP when the regular season begins, then that player is stuck on there for the first six games. Luck is expected to start Week 1, but if he’s still on the PUP right before the regular season starts, the Colts will be without their quarterback until mid-October.
Teams always have the option of shifting a player from PUP to injured reserve if it looks like he won’t be physically ready within that six-week timeframe.
The Cowboys and Rams both saw their depth charts upended this week, for entirely different reasons. Ezekiel Elliott got a six-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, and Dallas has to figure out the short-term starter if his appeal fails.