We talked a lot about the Colts’ defensive line this offseason, and one of the things we mentioned was that it has a lot of depth. That depth has been tested early on in training camp, however, as Henry Anderson began camp on the PUP list and now Kendall Langford is out 3-4 weeks with a knee injury. In addition to all of that, Arthur Jones - who was already working his way back from injury - was suspended for the first four games of the regular season.
When it comes to the replacement plan for Anderson and Langford (both of whom are starters), the Colts have been pretty straightforward: Chuck Pagano yesterday said that Zach Kerr will play the five-technique (Langford’s spot), David Parry and T.Y. McGill will play inside (nose tackle), and that Hassan Ridgeway, Ricky Lumpkin, and others will play at the three-technique (Anderson’s spot). Did you notice in there, however, that not once was Art Jones’s name mentioned?
That’s interesting, and it fits what we’ve seen on the field in training camp. Even with all three defensive line starters missing practice on Tuesday (Anderson, Langford, and Parry), the first-team unit was Zach Kerr, T.Y. McGill, and Hassan Ridgeway. Art Jones was relegated to playing with the second-team, and when the Colts have been healthy he’s been playing on the third-team. How are the Colts working Jones into the mix, and what’s the plan for the preseason?
“Well, I think that the way that we put it together before we were supposed to play last weekend is we had a number of reps that we thought each guy needed to be prepared for week one,” defensive coordinator Ted Monachino said today. “And Arthur is in a little bit different situation, like you mentioned, but he’s not all the way back yet. So we’re managing him in the way he needs to be managed right now. And as we move closer and closer, I think that his reps will ramp up, and he’ll start to get his legs underneath him a little bit. But the good news is we have a good, long time with Arthur. We trust that Arthur is going to do the right things between now and the time he does come back, and right now he’s practicing his tail off, he’s working hard in the meeting room, and paying great attention in the unit meeting, and [I’m] encouraged by him. Disappointed like we all are that he can’t go out there and trot out there against Detroit, but have great, high expectations for Arthur once he does come back in week five.”
Monachino says that he’s seeing improvement from Jones in camp so far.
“Absolutely,” he said. “Getting stronger every day. He’s getting in better shape from a cardiovascular standpoint every day, you see Arthur moving the way we would expect Arthur to move more often, [so] yeah I’m pleased with where he is.”
What the Colts are actually going to do with Art Jones remains to be seen. Will they keep him around long enough to return in week five? Will they truly increase his playing time this preseason? And when will he be fully healthy? These are questions that we don’t have the answer to, but understand that right now Jones isn’t factoring into the defensive line picture too much. Ted Monachino seems encouraged by the defensive lineman, but at some point - sooner rather than later - he’s going to have to produce on the field.