Indianapolis Colts' starting defensive lineman Arthur Jones has only played 68 snaps so far this season. He played a large portion of the snaps in week one, but then in week two he was injured with a high ankle sprain, which has forced him to miss the past month. For the first time since before that week two game against the Eagles, Jones was back at practice on Wednesday, working in a limited role, and he was also back in a limited role on Thursday.
Because of that, there is some hope that he might be able to play on Sunday. Regardless, it's clear that he's closer than he's ever been to returning to the field, and there's a chance that he could play against the Bengals. At the same time, however, his status is far from certain for the matchup of two of the AFC's best teams.
Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said today that it would certainly be a "big plus" if Jones is able to go this weekend, but he also offered a caution, saying that, "when those guys are injured like that and they've been out a month, don't forget that they haven't blown out their lungs and played games consistently. A lot of people think, ‘Okay he's back, he's going to...' Don't forget he hasn't played in a month of football. If he gets back, we're going to make sure we sprinkle him in there at times, but understand that he hasn't played a month of football and it's always hard to come back from that."
So even if Jones does play on Sunday, his role would be limited (as should be expected). Arthur Jones also met with the media on Thursday, and he talked about how tough it is being out and not able to play. "It's definitely difficult," Jones said, "but I try to stay mentally tough. Stay mentally in it, helping the younger guys and just studying plays, and asking a lot of questions, and just doing what the trainers are telling me to do, getting treatment, riding the bike and doing what I can do. Controlling the controllables. I'm just happy to be back around my teammates."
Jones also had high praise for his teammates, who have really stepped up their game in the past few weeks with Jones out of the lineup. "It was no let off, it was next man up," Jones said. "Guys are playing great. Ricky Jean (Francois) has done a great job. Cory Redding, you would swear he was young, 10 years younger. He's done a fantastic job and he's playing at a high level. Hopefully when I come back, I can play at a high level too."
"It's just guys who are really just buying in," Jones added a few moments later. "Guys who really listen to their coaching and less mistakes, and guys just are hungry. Guys are really building a monster here and it's something I want to be a part of."
Hopefully Jones, who the Colts signed to a 5-year, $33 million contract this offseason, is able to be a part of the defense on the field again sooner rather than later. They've been having success in the past month, and hopefully when Jones returns that success will continue at an even higher level. Perhaps that return will be this Sunday, but regardless, it's close.