The Indianapolis Colts this afternoon announced that they have activated defensive lineman Arthur Jones to the 53-man roster from the exempt list.
Jones returned from a four game suspension this week and the Colts were granted a roster exemption for him this week. They could have left him on that list until Monday if he wasn’t ready to play in the game, but the team has been carrying just 52 players on their roster since Tuesday, which was all along an indication that they were waiting for Jones’s return.
Of course, just because Jones has been activated doesn’t neccessarily mean he’ll play on Sunday; it just means they’ve seen enough to want to stick with him and keep him on the active roster. He could still easily be one of the seven inactives on Sunday, especially with few injured players. But since the team had a roster exemption for him, they could have just left him on that list if he wasn’t going to play, so we’ll see.
Chuck Pagano was very noncommittal on Friday about whether Jones would play. “He did a great job while he was away,” Pagano said. “He is in really good shape. He hasn’t played football for a month. Again, you go out here and we are not scrimmaging, we are not doing the things that are going to happen on Sunday. We will gauge that and we will make the smartest decision based on what’s best for this team and really what’s best for Art. I just don’t want to throw him out there without some time on task so we’ll see.”
Whether Jones plays on Sunday or not, it’s obviously a huge opportunity for him. In many ways, he might be playing for his football career this season with the Colts after failing to do much of anything (largely due to injuries and the suspension) in his first couple of years with the Colts. Jones really didn’t do much in preseason either despite playing against backups, but the Colts are hoping that he’ll be able to be a playmaker. There’s no doubt that it’s a crucial opportunity for him this year, however.
“I think he is in a great place mentally,” Pagano said. “He knows what’s at stake. The reality of it is that he needs to play well and needs to do well. If he does that, he can resurrect his name and we’ve talked about it. He can do right by his teammates and himself and all that stuff. He is a grown man. He’s accountable and he knows exactly where he is at and what’s happened and he has done the right thing to this point. Now he has to get out on the field and do a great job for us on defense once that opportunity presents itself.”
That opportunity might present itself as soon as Sunday, since Jones is now on the 53-man roster and eligible to play, but it’s still no guarantee he’ll be active on gameday.