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Could TE Hunter Long start season on PUP list, miss first 4 games?

Long has not practiced all season and may be in jeopardy of making the final roster

NFL: JUN 06 Los Angeles Rams OTA Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Los Angeles Rams should be encouraged by Davis Allen’s big breakout in his NFL debut this weekend against the Las Vegas Raiders—the rookie hauled in all eight of his targets for over 50 yards.

With Allen now solidly in the picture, the TE pecking order is now coming into shape. Veterans Tyler Higbee and Brycen Hopkins have not played this preseason, which is a sign they are locks to make the roster. That leaves Hunter Long as the apparent fourth tight end.

Long was acquired this offseason as part of the return capital from the Miami Dolphins in the Jalen Ramsey trade, but he’s yet to practice outside of minicamp with his new team in Los Angeles. Long started training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list along with rookie offensive tackle Warren McClendon, though McClendon’s stay on the list was short-lived and he’s played in both preseason games so far.

In terms of formal timing, the Rams would have to move Long to the PUP/reserve list to trigger the four game absence. This can be done at either the 80-man roster deadline or the final cutdown to 53.

PUP status may actually be a benefit for Long, as he’d likely struggle to make the roster after not practicing with the Rams. The downside is the tight end would miss the team’s first four games (down from six pre-2022); however, this buys the veteran time to nurse back to full health. Four weeks can be an eternity in the NFL—there’s no telling how much attrition will set in over that period. If Higbee, Hopkins, or Allen are dinged up at that point, Long may turn out to be a welcome addition to the roster as a depth piece after being on the fringes at the conclusion of training camp.

It could very well be in the best interest of both the Rams and Hunter Long for the tight end to start the season on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, which would cause Long to miss the first four games of the season. While Long missing time is unfortunate, at least LA doesn’t have to cut a player they acquired this offseason in a high-profile trade or force a player onto the roster that hasn’t practiced all training camp.