The Arizona Cardinals decided against using their single "designated for return" option when placing rookie guard Jonathan Cooper on the season-ending injured reserve list Friday. This counts as a good time to brush up on the various injury-related options available to teams as they move toward the 53-man roster limit Saturday:
PUP list: Players moved to the reserve/physically unable to perform list can resume practicing between Oct. 15 and Nov. 19. At that point, they have 21 calendar days to join the 53-man roster, at which point they become eligible to play in games. Players become ineligible for reserve/PUP once they have passed physical examinations for the coming season. Cooper was ineligible for this list once he passed his pre-camp physical. Note that players on the active/PUP list count against active roster limits and can join their teams at any time during camp, provided they pass a physical. Players on reserve/PUP do not count against active roster limits. Michael Crabtree and Percy Harvin recently moved from active/PUP to reserve/PUP, for example.
NFI list: The rules and qualifications for the non-football injury (NFI) list mirror those for PUP. The difference is that players on NFI suffered their injuries outside an NFL context, usually either while playing in college or away from the team.
IR list: Players on the traditional injured reserve list cannot play until the following season. In some cases, players on IR negotiate settlements allowing them to become free agents in exchange for a reduced portion of their scheduled salaries. These players cannot immediately re-sign with the same team.
IR-DFR list: A team can name one player per season to the injured reserve-designated for return list. Players on IR-DFR must be designated as such when placed on IR. They cannot be placed on the list before the Tuesday prior to the regular-season opener. They can resume practicing no earlier than six weeks after placement on the list. They can return to the active roster eight weeks after being placed on the list. There would be no reason to use this designation for any player qualifying under the PUP or NFI rules. Cooper would have been a logical candidate for this list if the Cardinals were confident he could return late in the season.