Defensive lineman Arthur Jones was the Colts' biggest free agent signing a year ago, yet he started just three games in the 2014 regular season, appearing in nine games total. It was a season plagued with injuries for the run-stopper, and the Colts' run defense continued to struggle mightily. If you ask the team's coaching staff, they'll draw a direct correlation between those two facts.
Whether or not that's a correct correlation to draw, the reality is that the Colts absolutely need Jones to stay healthy in 2015. They invested a lot on the offensive side of the football this offseason, but their only free agent signing along the defensive line was to bring in Kendall Langford - a good move, no doubt, but one that essentially is just a replacement for Cory Redding, who left in free agency. The Colts are still counting heavily on Arthur Jones, and hopefully he stays healthy. If he does, the Colts think he could be a major force along their defensive line.
"We know we need him to be out there for 16 weeks,'' head coach Chuck Pagano said, according to FOX59's Mike Chappell. "It was unfortunate that we missed him for some weeks here and there, and that he missed time. But we need him to be available. We need him out there. He's a difference-maker.''
Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky agreed, as he said that, "[Jones is] a good football player. Yes, it makes a difference [to have him healthy]."
As for Jones, he's determined to stay healthy in 2015 and is adamant that he's not an injury-prone player. "Frustrating,'' he said, describing his first season as a Colt, per Chappell. "Definitely frustrating. I'm a guy that's known not to be injured. Just look at my past. I don't miss time.''
If he can stay healthy in 2015, it would be a big boost for the Colts' defense. They played well against lesser opponents last year but still got destroyed against the good offenses they faced, particularly against the Patriots and particularly on the ground. That's precisely the area that Jones was brought in to help, yet last year he was struggling through injury for much of the season. He's coming back healthy in 2015, and if he can stay that way, he could have a big impact along the defensive line for the Colts in the run game. Hopefully, he can stay healthy and be that "difference-maker" that Chuck Pagano described him as.