Loss of Arthur Jones leaves a huge hole

Ankle surgery means defensive tackle to miss at least two months.

The Indianapolis Colts' run defense took a punishing hit Wednesday.

That's when the news went public that defensive tackle Arthur Jones tore ligaments in his left ankle and will need surgery, as reported by NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport, citing two unnamed sources.

The 6-3, 337-pound tackle is expected to begin the regular season on injured reserve, possibly with the designation to return. But it’s not a given that the sixth-year pro makes it back in 2015.

It’s a potentially devastating setback for a defense that needed to be stronger against the run after getting physically manhandled in January playoff losses at New England the past two postseasons.

The Colts have yet to confirm the diagnosis. Head coach Chuck Pagano has said the past two days that he was awaiting word from doctors, and that Jones was getting a second opinion. Jones got hurt on the first play of the Colts’ 24-14 preseason win at St. Louis. He tried to keep playing for one more down, but had to exit.

He becomes the latest in a series of setbacks involving high-priced Colts free-agent additions in recent years. Offensive right tackle Gosder Cherilus was waived just before training camp, which will cost the Colts $2.9 million in dead cap space this season and $5.8 million next year. Safety LaRon Landry was cut in February with two years remaining on his contract, which translates to about $3.3 million in dead cap money this season.

Jones, 29, is to count $7.1 million against the salary cap, which ranks fifth on the roster.

He had emerged as a full-time starter with the Baltimore Ravens in 2013 before cashing in with the Colts on a five-year, $33-million contract, including $16 million guaranteed.

But the defensive tackle suffered a right high ankle sprain last season and, by his own admission, was never the same in 2014. He played in nine regular-season games with just three starts, then started all three playoff games.

While the Colts added defensive end Kendall Langford in free agency, subtracting Jones likely means dividing up the tackle spot between Zach Kerr, Montori Hughes, rookie Henry Anderson and rookie David Parry.

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