The Steelers placed four members of their roster on the Physically Unable to Perform list at the start of camp - tight end Heath Miller, fullback David Johnson, nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu and linebacker Sean Spence. Here is some insight on the rules of the PUP.
There are two kinds of PUP lists:
Preseason PUP (which Miller, Spence, Ta'amu and Johnson are on) - means a player can do everything but practice or play in games with the team while they're in training camp. They still have access to trainers and medical facilities, can participate in meetings and, presumably, eat at the cafeteria. All players who took the field in the Steelers' first training camp practice cannot be placed on the preseason PUP.
Regular Season PUP - A player placed on the regular season PUP cannot practice or play in games until after the sixth game of the season.
In the Steelers' case, if any player is placed on the regular season PUP, he won't be eligible to participate in practice until after the Steelers host the Ravens in Week 7. The first game that player would be eligible to play in would be at Oakland in Week 8.
They would not necessarily be eligible, however. At that point, a team has a three-week window to allow the player to practice, starting from the first day that player practices.
Teams have that three weeks to move him to the 53-man roster. If they do not, he is placed on injured reserve, an ineligible to play in that season.
This will become more newsworthy as training camp progresses because of Miller, and to an extent, Ta'amu and Spence.
While it's up in the air how the Steelers will handle each player's specific situation, but in the event any of them land on the regular season PUP list, here's a timeline of the decisions that would need to be made by which dates:
Monday, Oct. 21 - First day players on the regular season PUP list are eligible to return to practice.
Monday, Nov. 11 - The last day in which a player can return to practice before being placed on the IR for the year. If the player returned to practice Oct. 21, he has three weeks to practice. On this day, the team must make a decision to place him on IR or put him back on the 53-man roster.
Monday, Dec. 2 - If a player began practicing on the last possible day, Nov. 11, Dec. 2 would be the last day before a team would be required to put the player on the IR list.
In other words, if Miller is placed on the regular season PUP, he cannot practice until Monday, Oct. 21. If on that day, Miller returns to practice, the team has until Monday, Nov. 11 to either place him on the 53-man roster, or put him on the IR. If Miller does not practice until Nov. 11, the team has until Monday, Dec. 2 to place him on the 53-man roster or on IR.
A player can be placed on the 53-man roster or the IR list at any time after Monday, Oct. 21. The three-week waiting period is a maximum time frame.
(applause for Daily Norseman editor Christopher Gates for summarizing this earlier today)