The NFL announced today that Indianapolis Colts linebacker D’Qwell Jackson has been suspended for the next four games for violating the league’s performance enhancing substances policy.
With four games remaining in the regular season, Jackson will be suspended for the remainder of the regular season and eligible to return on Monday, January 2, following the week 17 game against the Jaguars. So if the Colts make the postseason Jackson will be back in time for the playoff run, but he won’t be around to help the team in their push for the playoffs in December.
Jackson suffered a concussion in Monday’s game, so his status for this Sunday’s game was already in doubt, but now there’s no question about it and he’ll be out for the next four games. It’s a significant loss for Indianapolis, as they lose their leading tackler for the rest of the regular season. In 12 games, Jackson recorded 78 tackles, five tackles for loss, a sack, three passes defensed, and two fumble recoveries. He’s been the team’s best inside linebacker, and while he hasn’t been great he’s at least been productive. This suspension will also snap a streak of 92 consecutive games started for Jackson, which was the second-longest in the NFL among active linebackers.
In his place, the Colts will now have to turn to a bunch of young guys to try to fill the inside linebacker spots. Edwin Jackson will likely retain one of the starting spots, but then Antonio Morrison and Josh McNary - who have seen a massive dropoff in snaps recently - will likely occupy the other spot. We could also see the Colts utilize Clayton Geathers even more in the box as a linebacker, which might be as good of an option as they have right now. All season the linebackers have been a weakness for the Colts, and Jackson’s suspension won’t help that much.