Today, Colts defensive lineman Arthur Jones is officially eligible to come off of the reserve/suspended list, meaning that the Colts will have to make a decision on what to do with him.
Jones was suspended four games for violating the league’s substance-abuse program, but before that he hadn’t really done much with the Colts as he struggled with injuries. Signed as their big free agent acquisition in 2014, Jones missed the bulk of the 2014 season with an injury. He played in nine games (starting three) and recorded 23 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and a forced fumble. Then in 2015, the Colts were counting on him to be healthy and produce, but he suffered a season-ending injury during the preseason. This year, Jones was limited as he recovered from his injury in training camp and preseason and was largely a non-factor.
Meanwhile, other defensive linemen have emerged as playmakers for the Colts. Kendall Langford and Henry Anderson have both proven themselves to be very good linemen, and David Parry has been good enough at nose tackle. Then Zach Kerr has been a nice depth guy as part of the rotation, and rookie Hassan Ridgeway has promise. The sixth defensive lineman, T.Y. McGill, has some really nice pass rush skills and was the star of camp and preseason this year.
So here’s the question: where does Jones fit in? He’s not going to supplant Langford, Anderson, or Parry in the starting lineup, and it’d be a surprise if he finds himself ahead of Zach Kerr as the top rotational guy anytime soon either as he works back into the mix. So then should they play him ahead of Ridgeway, the rookie? And what does that mean for McGill, who does have some value as a third down lineman in passing situations? There aren’t easy answers to those questions. The Colts want to see what he can do when healthy, but it will be a very interesting question nonetheless to see how (and if) the Colts integrate him back into the mix as he comes off of his suspension. The logical move to make would be to waive the recently-signed Jeremy Vujnovich (only to sign him back to their practice squad once he clears waivers) to make room for Jones, which would then give the Colts a roster spot to see what to do with him. But how will they work him into the defensive line mix? That remains to be seen, and I don’t think there’s an easy answer.