When the New England Patriots take the field for their first practice of this year’s training camp tomorrow, one of the team’s most important players will not be present: wide receiver Julian Edelman is dealing with a thumb injury and will reportedly miss around three weeks because of the issue that was described as a mild trauma. As a result of the injury, the Patriots will move Edelman to the non-football injury list today (per ESPN’s Field Yates).
The NFI distinction is similar to the physically unable to perform list (PUP): players can be activated at any time before early September’s roster cutdowns and still count against the 90-man roster limit. Furthermore, if they do not get cleared to return before cutdown day, they will move from active/NFI to reserve/NFI and have to sit out at least the first six weeks of the season. If they don’t return at that point, their season will end on NFI.
The two major differences between the two reserve lists concern the timing of injuries — NFI deals with injuries suffered off the football field, PUP with those suffered during team activities — and financial compensation: teams have the right to not pay base salary to players on the NFI list. In Edelman’s case, however, this will not become an issue as he is expected to return to practice by mid-August anyway.
Until then, the depth/rotational wide receivers on the Patriots’ roster will see additional action in practice and preseason — which could potentially turn Edelman’s injury into a net positive for the club: the reigning Super Bowl MVP will not have to go through the wear-and-tear of early training camp, all while other wide receivers on the roster will get more opportunities to work alongside Tom Brady with him out.
Edelman, meanwhile, will be the second Patriot to open training camp on the NFI: rookie offensive tackle Yodny Cajuste, who is recovering from offseason quad surgery, was placed on the list on Sunday.