With the Indianapolis Colts set to begin practicing today to begin training camp, they have announced a few injury-related moves that were fully expected. The team announced that outside linebacker Robert Mathis and offensive lineman Donald Thomas have all been placed on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.
Basically, the PUP is a designation for players who are unable to begin practicing with the team at the start of camp because of football-related activities. They don't practice with the team until they are cleared by the team doctors, but once that clearance comes they are eligible to return to practice immediately. So this is just a formal list on which players are placed until they are ready to practice. If they don't come off of the PUP list for the entirety of training camp and preseason (meaning they don't practice or play at all), then they are eligible for the regular season PUP list. If they're placed on that list, they are forced to miss the first six games of the season, after which the team will have a window where they can activate the player. It's very hard to predict injuries and the recovery from them, but I find it unlikely that either of the players the Colts placed on the PUP list today would actually make it to the regular season PUP list, as I find it likely they will be activated sometime before then.
Mathis is recovering from a torn Achilles that he suffered last year while serving a four-game suspension, an injury that kept him out for the entire 2014 season. The franchise's all-time sack leader is attempting to make a comeback at 34-years old, and the Colts have high hopes and expectations for the pass rusher in 2015. The Colts aren't offering a timetable on his recovery, but his goal is to be ready for the start of the regular season - something that is probably very possible. The Colts, however, have no plans to rush him back and are waiting until he is 100 percent healthy.
Donald Thomas is perhaps the biggest question mark of all of these players who were placed on the PUP list today, as he has suffered a torn quad in back-to-back seasons. In 2013, he went down early in the Colts' week two contest against the Dolphins, while in 2014 he went down during a minimal-contact drill in training camp. After being signed as a free agent in 2013, Thomas has hardly played for the Colts, and we're really not sure what to expect from him this year - if he even makes the roster. If he is healthy, he might be able to play his way into the starting competition, but right now we're just not sure. What we do know is that he won't be in the competition to start camp, as he's on the PUP list as camp begins.
What this also means is that Vick Ballard and Nate Irving are active, so perhaps we could see them on the practice field today? Either way, they should be very close to returning.