ANDERSON, Ind. — Arthur Jones arrived, apologized for being suspended four games, promised “to dominate” when back on the field and then quickly exited back to his Anderson University dormitory room.
It’s not the kind of training camp welcome that players enjoy, but the much-maligned Indianapolis Colts defensive tackle realizes he’s put himself in a bad situation.
Jones, 30, a starter in just three regular-season games since signing a $33-million contract in 2014, didn’t say what he tested positive for in violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. The NFL announced the violation and punishment on Friday. But the seventh-year pro made it sound like he didn’t knowingly ingest a banned substance.
“With the NFL, you know, you can take too much cough syrup and it’s a PED,” Jones said Tuesday morning.
He also said, “I did a piss poor job of double checking my supplements to make sure nothing was banned.”
No more details were discussed. He advised reporters to contact his agent.
Jones hasn’t played since suffering a left ankle injury as the result of a chop block during the third preseason game last August. The injury required surgery and he was placed on season-ending injured reserve. The season before, a right ankle injury limited him to just three regular-season starts in nine games and then three playoff starts. He later admitted his play was affected by the injury.
“Listen, I’m on a mission,” he said, “and I’m sticking with my mission to come here and to dominate and to play at a high level. I apologize to the organization, more importantly to my teammates and the fans, and I appreciate all their support, too. It’s a small thing, another thing I’ve got to get through, but I’ll get through this.
“When October comes, I’ll be fresh, be healthy and I’ll be ready to dominate, you better believe it.”
Defensive coordinator Ted Monachino said the Colts are just focused on getting Jones healthy and back on the field. Jones didn’t participate in offseason training activities. He’s permitted to practice and play in preseason, but his suspension begins on the first day of Week 1.
“We’re supportive of Art,” the first-year coordinator said. “It probably has an equal effect on both of us. We’d love to have him out there and have him contribute to our defense as soon as possible.
“But right now, we’re in a mode where he just has to get as far down the road as he can health wise and get back to the point where he’s practicing full speed and practicing with us every day.”
What remains to be seen is whether Jones is in fact healthy enough to practice at camp. He assured during OTAs he would be ready when called upon.
“Right now, I’m happy to be in Anderson, to be here with my teammates and my brothers, and just embrace the grind with them,” Jones said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been on the field.”
Jones accepted a $2 million reduction in his base salary for this season and still has two years remaining on his contract. He made 23 tackles with 1.5 sacks in his first Colts season, then added 11 tackles in three playoff starts two seasons ago.
The last question asked of Jones was perhaps the most obvious: Is he concerned the Colts will move on without him?
“It’s the NFL,” Jones said. “There’s no guarantee in the NFL. What I can do is come out here every day and grind and bust my butt and show I belong here.”
Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.