The Miami Dolphins reported for training camp today, with players arriving at the team facility this morning. This afternoon, the club officially placed running back Knowshon Moreno and center Mike Pouncey on the Physically Unable to Perform list.
Teams must place a player on the PUP list prior to their taking place in any practices during training camp. For the Dolphins, that first practice is tomorrow, meaning today was the day to make the moves happen. There are actually two versions of the PUP list, the "Active/PUP" and the "Reserve/PUP." The active version is the one used during the preseason, and it allows players who are unable to start training camp to sit out until they are medically cleared to practice. At that point, the player can immediately be removed from the list and return to practice.
Placing a player on the PUP list in training camp does not open a roster spot on the team's 90-man roster.
The reserve version of the list is the regular season PUP list. A player placed on this list is out for the first six weeks of the season, with no practice or game appearance allowed. Between the first day after Week 6 and the first day after Week 11 of the season, a team has to make a decision on what to do with the player, using one of three options. They can (1) place the player on injured reserve; (2) return the player to practice; or, (3) release the player.
The bonus of the Reserve/PUP list is, any player on it does not count against a team's 53-man roster limit. It gives a team a way to stash an injured player, without ending his season by placing him on injured reserve, while he rehabs an injury.
Once the player returns to practice in that decision window, the team then has a three-week window to decide if they will place him on injured reserve or put him back on the 53-man roster.
Finally, and this is the important piece when it comes to players like Pouncey, and to some degree Moreno, if a player practices during training camp or the preseason, he is not eligible for the Reserve/PUP list. That's why placing a player on the Active/PUP list today is critical for being able to hold on to him without using a 53-man roster spot if he is not able to return when the season starts.
The Dolphins are not expecting a long rehab for Moreno, who had to have knee surgery this offseason. He should be able to be removed from the Active/PUP at some point during camp. Pouncey, on the other hand, is expected to miss an extended period of the season, after having to undergo hip surgery to repair a torn labrum. Placing him on the Active/PUP today allows the team the freedom to put him on the Reserve/PUP when the season begins.