The New England Patriots have placed eight players on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list to start the season, including 2014 1st round pick Dominique Easley. There's no reason to be concerned about Easley just yet.
On July 24th 2012, the Patriots started the season with eight players on the PUP list: Rookie wide receiver Jeremy Ebert, tight ends Jake Ballard and Daniel Fells, offensive linemen Logan Mankins and Sebastian Vollmer, defensive lineman Myron Pryor, and linebacker Brandon Spikes. All of these players had some form of offseason surgery that led them to the list.
Ballard tore his ACL and had mircrofracture surgery after his 2011 Super Bowl against the Patriots and was stashed on the injured reserve.
On July 25th, less than one day later, Spikes was removed from the list. On August 5th, Ebert was removed from the PUP list. On August 12th, Mankins was removed from the list. On August 19th, the Patriots removed Vollmer and Fells from the PUP list.
Pryor had a chest injury sideline him as a rookie, a back injury that forced him out for eight out of the final nine games as a second year player, a shoulder injury that landed him on the injured reserve as a third year player, and that same shoulder injury kept him off the field in the fourth year of his contract as he spent the whole season on the injured reserve.
On July 23rd 2013, the Patriots placed five players on the PUP list: Wide receiver Julian Edelman, tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Jake Ballard, offensive lineman Nick McDonald, and defensive lineman Armond Armstead. Edelman, Gronkowski, and Armstead had offseason surgeries, while Ballard was still on the list for his 2012 injuries.
Later that very day, Ballard was removed from the PUP list after he passed his physical. He was on the list for less than a day. On August 1st, Edelman, who broke his footback in May, was removed from the list. On August 30th, Gronkowski was removed from the PUP list after a terrible offseason of multiple surgeries.
Armstead had surgery to treat an infection on July 29th and was never removed from the list. Armstead suffered a heart attack and was forced to retire. McDonald never passed his physical and was released.
On July 21st 2014, the Patriots placed five players on the PUP list: Wide receivers Aaron Dobson, Matthew Slater, and Jeremy Gallon, cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, and defensive lineman Tommy Kelly. A handful of rookies, like Easley, were placed on the list for injuries they suffered prior to entering the league.
On July 26th, Kelly was taken off the of the list and allowed to practice. On July 29th, Dennard was removed from the list, and on July 31st Slater was also removed. On August 11th, Dobson and Easley were removed from the list, and Gallon was taken off the list on August 18th.
So what do we learn from this information? In each of the past three seasons, a player placed on the injured reserve was removed within the week, and two were take off the list within 24 hours. The key players who missed the season were either expected to receive a redshirt season (Ballard) or went through a major surgery at the end of July (Armstead).
There are no real surprises on the current Patriots PUP list. Most are players who underwent surgery after the end of the year- although the fact that Dont'a Hightower and Jerod Mayo aren't on the list is extremely positive for their Week 1 availability.
The Patriots veterans don't report until Wednesday, July 29th and, per the CBA, "the first day of a Club's preseason training camp shall be limited to physical examinations, meetings, and classroom instruction; no on-field activities shall be permitted other than running and conditioning."
When the veterans go through their physical examinations, don't be surprised if more than a couple are removed later this week.