The big news today as it pertains to the Indianapolis Colts was obviously the announcement that defensive lineman Arthur Jones has been suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season due to violating the league’s PED policy. Naturally, the question many are asking is this: how does it impact the Colts? That question ties right in to another article we were going to write today, our defensive line preview, so we’ve combined the two. The theme of the defensive line preview was going to be about the depth of the position, and that’s exactly where the discussion needs to be regarding the loss of Jones.
While it might be a surprising answer for a guy who was given a five-year, $33 million deal in 2014, the honest truth is that this suspension doesn’t impact the Colts too much. Of course you’d love to have Jones around and would love to have him contributing, but the Colts didn’t need him to. He has missed most of the past two years due to injuries and the Colts have therefore adjusted to playing without him, while they also have continued to address the defensive line over the past few years. That means the unit has plenty of depth right now and is capable of dealing with the loss of Jones - whether for just the first four games or permanently (if the Colts decide to cut him).
Henry Anderson had a standout rookie season that immediately launched him into the discussion among the Colts’ top players, and he’s returning from injury this year too. He was phenomenal last year, so much so that owner Jim Irsay even included him alongside Andrew Luck when listing the team’s best players. The timetable for his return from injury is still somewhat uncertain, but Anderson should be back and should contribute once again for the Colts. Kendall Langford also had a great year last year in his first season with the Colts, and he’ll be back too. General manager Ryan Grigson gets criticized for his free agent moves quite a bit (and there’s reason for that), but Langford proved to be a very good addition last year. At nose tackle, David Parry started all 16 games as a rookie and did well, so he’s expected to once again occupy that spot. It was unlikely that Arthur Jones would have supplanted either of those three for a starting spot - at least not right away.
He would have, however, provided key depth if healthy. The good news is that the Colts have other players who can do the same. Zach Kerr and T.Y. McGill are both returning after solid seasons a year ago, and the team added Hassan Ridgeway in the fourth round of this year’s draft. Ricky Lumpkin, Kelcy Quarles, Delvon Simmons, and Sterling Bailey are also on the 90-man roster to compete in training camp.
In other words, while Arthur Jones would have had a role in the defensive line rotation had he been healthy (and not suspended), it’s not a loss the Colts can’t overcome. In fact, if they get Henry Anderson back healthy, the unit will look a lot like it did last year - and hopefully even better, regardless of whether Jones winds up contributing this year or not. The position has the chance to be a true strength of the team, as long as everyone stays healthy.