If you're a casual Texans fan, not completely versed in the different designations a team can use in order to maintain roster flexibility with injured players, then you probably read the headline of this post and flipped the hell out. I mean, any title that includes the words "Physically Unable To Perform" bumping up against the name of lasts season's number one overall pick, who happened to undergo career threatening micro-fracture surgery…that's some heavy shit.
Maybe you threw your iPad on the ground. Perhaps you slapped your drink off the table. Maybe you wept. All would be normal reactions to how bad that title sounds. But to this I say — FEAR NOT, TEXAN FAN! This news is actually not all that newsworthy (but I thank you for clicking anyway).
With training camp officially beginning for veteran players this weekend, Clowney was placed on the Active/Physically Unable To Perform list, which as you can see from the definition below, essentially allows them to keep options open on putting him on the Reserve/PUP list to begin the regular season:
Active/PUP is utilized in the preseason when a player doesn’t pass a physical from a football related injury. The player remains on the active 90-man roster during this time. He can pass a physical at any time and come off the list and start practicing.
Reserve/PUP is saved for the regular season. Here the player does not count towards the then 53-man roster. This designation requires missing a minimum of six but a maximum of 12 weeks. Once activated, there is up to a three-week grace period for practice before being the roster spot counts.
Check-in physicals are performed upon arrival at every camp and a player must pass before any conditioning tests or practice starts. If there is any question on an injury or the possibility of a setback, the player is typically failed on physical and the active/PUP designation is used to preserve the right to later enact the reserve/PUP status in the regular season.
If a player passes the initial physical and practices for even one minute without having been on active/PUP first, a team loses the ability to use the roster spot saving reserve/PUP designation. This is why you will see teams freely apply the active/PUP status as training camps open. This is also why you will see many players pass a physical a day later and begin practice. If the original injury flares up, this allows the team to save the roster spot later. However, it can’t be used if a new unrelated injury occurs.
This is pretty standard stuff. In seasons past, we've seen players like Brian Cushing and Arian Foster placed on the Active/PUP list until they recovered from offseason surgeries or nagging injuries (or both). Clowney's recovery from the microfracture surgery is actually right on schedule, even called "spectacular" in a recent Forbers interview with Dr. Walter Lowe, the Texans' team physician.
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In a recent interview on my radio show on Sports Radio 610, Texans head coach Bill O'Brien said that Clowney would not be in pads to begin training camp, but they hope to get him back somewhere along the way during the preseason:
“[Clowney] has put a lot of time in…in the offseason to get better,” O’Brien told Sean, Ted, and John. “It’s not an easy thing to have an injury in his rookie year."
“He’s put a lot of time in. Will he be able to be out there right away when we put the pads on on August 3rd for our first full padded practice? No, he won’t be out there right away for that. I think you’ll see him eventually later in training camp and try to ramp him up for the season.”
The Texans also placed linebacker Akeem Dent on the same active/PUP list as Clowney. Offensive lineman David Quessenberry was placed on the non-football injury list as he continues to recover from lymphoma. Wide receiver Alan Bonner is on the non-football injury list. All four players can be activated at any point during training camp.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast.