As first reported by 95.7 The Game’s John Middlekauff, Oakland Raiders cornerback D.J. Hayden has not fully recovered from the foot injury that sidelined him during OTA’s. Middlekauff also notes speculation that Hayden could be designated to the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.
This may cause a bit of confusion. The NFL has two different types of PUP, Active/PUP and Reserve/PUP, both available to players suffering football-related injuries. The Active/PUP is also known as the Preseason PUP, and, as the name suggests, may be used exclusively during the preseason. Players who are unable to begin camp may be placed on the Active/PUP list, but are permitted to return to practice at any point during the duration of the training camp period once they received medical clearance.
The Reserve PUP (regular-season PUP) is the more familiar shorthand PUP. This designation is available for any player who begins training camp on the Active PUP list, but is unable to participate in any practices or preseason games. If transferred to the Reserve PUP, the player is ineligible to return for the first six games of the season. Players on the regular-season PUP do not count against the 53-man roster.
With that dive into NFL Rulebook esoterica out of the way, let’s focus on Hayden. Even if he does begin camp on the PUP list, as the foregoing makes clear, it does not necessarily shut the books on his training camp. He will be able to return to practice if the team medical staff believes he is able to do so.
This would not be overly concerning in isolation, but in the context of his short career, during which concern has been something of a watchword, this news represents yet another setback to his on-the-field development. From all outward appearances, Hayden is a hard worker. No doubt he has spent his down time as a cinephile in the film room. But watching simulacra of the game is no substitute for the real thing.
Here’s hoping that Hayden can get back on his feet soon.