The NFL has changed its rules regarding physically unable to perform (PUP) lists, giving players additional time to recover from injuries.
We discussed the proposed changes in March and the NFL has confirmed that the changes went into effect last week.
The new language reads as follows:
Commencing on the day after the conclusion of the sixth regular season weekend (October 15) and continuing through the day after the conclusion of the 11th regular season weekend (November 19), clubs are permitted to begin practicing players on Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform for a period not to exceed 21 calendar days. Pads and helmets are permitted during the 21-day period. At any time during the 21-day practice period, or prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, on the day after the conclusion of the 21-day period, clubs are permitted to restore such players on Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform to their Active/Inactive List.
Before the change, players on PUP lists had until the ninth regular-season weekend instead of the 11th to resume practicing. The change means teams can now push back by two weeks the opening of the 21-day practice period. A player on the PUP list entering the regular season could make his regular-season debut as early as Week 7 or as late as Week 15 under the new rules.
The additional time could help a player such as San Francisco 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree, who is recovering from a torn Achilles' tendon suffered this offseason. The 49ers have not given a timetable for Crabtree's return, so it's not known whether he would need the additional time. However, it's nice for teams to know they could essentially bring back a player for a three-game tuneup before postseason.