Three NFC North teams placed a total of four players on the reserve/physically unable to perform list this week. I've shared and/or contributed to some of the confusion that might surround their immediate future, so let's clarify how the next few months will play out for Detroit Lions cornerback Jack Williams, Green Bay Packers cornerback Al Harris and safety Atari Bigby, and Minnesota Vikings receiver Sidney Rice.
All PUP players are ineligible to play or practice for the first six weeks (not games) of the season.
After Week 6, a three-week window opens during which the players can return to practice (while not counting against the 53-man roster). In order to play this season, a PUP player must start practicing during that window. So the earliest a player could begin practicing is Oct. 18 and the latest is Nov. 1.
Once the player starts practicing, a second three-week window opens. At some point during that window, the player must be activated to the 53-man roster or be ineligible to play for the rest of the year. So the earliest a PUP player could be eligible to play is Week 7. The latest is Week 13.
Generally speaking, it's probably a safe bet to expect our PUP players to return on the earlier side of that timetable or not at all. It's not often that you see a player miss all of training camp, then almost two-thirds of the regular season, and then re-join a team for the stretch run. Football conditioning and team chemistry are two obstacles to such an unusual timetable.