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Art Jones’ last chance with Colts begins Sunday

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DENVER, CO - JANUARY 11: Arthur Jones #97 of the Indianapolis Colts celebrates a second quarter turnover against the Denver Broncos during a 2015 AFC Divisional Playoff game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 11, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – What amounts to Art Jones’ last opportunity at making something of his relationship with the Indianapolis Colts begins Sunday.

The team activated the veteran defensive tackle from the exempt list Saturday, making him available for its matchup with the Chicago Bears at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The transaction comes a day after coach Chuck Pagano was non-committal regarding Jones’ status. Jones missed the first month of the season while serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing substances policy.

“He hasn’t played football for a month,’’ Pagano said Friday. “We will make the smartest decision based on what’s best for this team and really what’s best for Art.

“I just don’t want to throw him out there without some time on task, so we’ll see.’’

Jones obviously showed enough during three practices this week to convince the coaching staff he was game-ready.

Early in the week, he said he was “excited to be in the building and to see my teammates, the coaches. I’m blessed to have this opportunity right now. I’m taking full advantage of it.’’

Jones has failed to deliver after signing a five-year, $33 million contract in 2014 that included $16 million in guarantees. He agreed to a pay cut during the offseason, one that lowered his ’16 base from $4.5 million to $2.5 million.

He has appeared in just 12 games, including the playoffs, and contributed 36 tackles and 1.5 sacks. Jones suffered a high sprain to his right ankle in ’14, then damaged ligaments in his left ankle during the ’15 preseason that forced him to miss the entire season.

Jones conceded he has a lot to prove moving forward.

“Being the guy who they brought me here to be, staying healthy and just being accountable and giving it all for my teammates,’’ he said. “I’m excited.

“Whenever they tell me my time is ready to be on the field, I’ll be ready to go.’’

Pagano didn’t mince words when asked about Jones.

“He knows what’s at stake,’’ he said. “The reality of it is he needs to play well and needs to do well. If he does that, he can resurrect his name and we’ve talked about it. He can do right by his teammates and himself and all that stuff.

“He is a grown man. He’s accountable and he knows exactly where he is at and what’s happened, and he has done the right thing to this point. Now he has to get out on the field and do a great job for us on defense once that opportunity presents itself.’’