Art Jones rejoins Colts after serving 4-game suspension

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Art Jones

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Art Jones’ on-again, off-again career with the Indianapolis Colts is on again. Almost.

The veteran defensive tackle returned to team headquarters Monday after serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing substances policy. The league announced the suspension July 22.

The Colts have a one-week roster exemption while Jones gets himself into playing shape. His suspension prohibited him from having any interaction with the team, including access to the facility.

Despite the one-week exemption, the Colts could activate Jones for Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears at Lucas Oil Stadium. A more likely scenario is for him to make his first appearance of the season Oct. 16 at Houston.

“We basically have a week to kind of get him back in the fold, see where he’s at,” coach Chuck Pagano said Monday. “He looked good. We have to get him back.

“He hasn’t been on the field for a month, obviously. Looks like he’s in good shape and we’ll find out and we’ll get him back out on the grass, get him back in the pads and get him practicing . . . see where he’s at from a physical standpoint and mental standpoint and go from there.”

Jones was one of general manager Ryan Grigson’s pricey free-agent acquisitions in 2014: a five-year, $33 million contract that included $16 million in guarantees.

The returns have been minimal: 12 games, including the postseason, 36 tackles and 1.5 sacks. Injuries, along with the suspension, have severely limited Jones’ contributions.

He missed seven games in ’14 with a high sprain to his right ankle, then suffered ligament damage to his left ankle in the third preseason game at St. Louis that required season-ending surgery.

“When you play as hard as I do, injuries happen,” Jones said during training camp. “It’s definitely frustrating. I’m definitely confident in my ability, what I can do.”

The four-game suspension, he added, is “a mild bump in the train track, but I’m not derailed. I’m on a mission. I’m sticking with my mission to come here and dominate and play at a high level.

“When October comes, I’ll be fresh, I’ll be healthy and ready to dominate.”

Jones’ return would be the latest boost for a defense that’s struggled while dealing with injuries. Among players who have returned after missing time with injuries are linemen Kendall Langford (knee) and Henry Anderson (knee), cornerback Vontae Davis (ankle) and safeties Clayton Geathers (foot) and T.J. Green (knee).

“Any time you get a player back that’s got ability to play winning football for you and add depth and those kinds of things, it’s good,” Pagano said.

You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51

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