The indications weren't good ever since Arthur Jones left Lucas Oil Stadium Saturday night in a walking boot, as he sought second opinions and the advice of specialists. Then yesterday, NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported that Jones will undergo surgery on his ankle to repair torn ligaments and that his season might be in jeopardy (with the best-case scenario being a mid-season return).
Head coach Chuck Pagano confirmed after Thursday night's preseason finale that it is an injury that will require surgery and said that there is no timetable for his return. This is according to ESPN's Mike Wells:
Chuck Pagano said DT Art Jones will need ankle surgery with no timetable on his return— Mike Wells (@MikeWellsNFL) September 4, 2015
Owner Jim Irsay had already confirmed that it was a significant injury earlier in the night while appearing in the broadcast booth with Don Fischer and Rick Venturi on FOX59, saying that the injury "is going to keep him out for a while," though the Colts are still trying to figure out just how long that is.
Really, this is nothing new from what we already assumed and heard reported from Rapoport, but the Colts have now confirmed that it is an injury that will require surgery. There is no timetable for his return at this point. Obviously, this is a significant loss for the Colts, as Jones was going to be counted on to really help improve the run defense this year after missing much of last season with a high ankle sprain.
The really interesting question now becomes who replaces Jones, which is especially interesting in light of tonight's preseason finale. Rookie defensive end Henry Anderson played early in the game with some of tonight's "starters," while Montori Hughes was still in there in the fourth quarter and Zach Kerr was playing in the middle of the game. What does that mean? While it's hard to read too much into this, I think it does suggest that there's a real chance that the Colts could be starting the rookie when they take on the Bills in week one. There is also a real chance that the Colts start another rookie out of Stanford, David Parry, at nose tackle, as he too was in there early in the game while Josh Chapman was in there late in the game. I don't necessarily think starting either of them would be the wrong choice, especially when keeping the long-term view in mind rather than just one game, but it's hard to know what the Colts will do right now. What we do know, however, is that both Anderson and Parry will be involved in the rotation and see significant playing time. And as Rick Venturi said on tonight's broadcast, there's no way around it: the Colts are now at the point where they are going to need to accelerate Anderson's development. With Jones likely to miss significant time, the team will need Anderson (along with Hughes, Kerr, and others) to really step up.