ANDERSON, Ind. – Art Jones declined to elaborate on the details that led to his four-game suspension, but the veteran defensive tackle was quick to put the blame squarely where it belonged.
“Obviously it’s not how I wanted to start off my camp,” he said Tuesday as the Indianapolis Colts reported to Anderson University for the start of training camp.
“I did a piss poor job of going through my supplements and make sure there wasn’t a banned substance in there.”
The NFL agreed, slapping Jones with a four-game suspension for violating its performance enhancing substances policy.
Jones didn’t seem to agree with the decision.
“With the NFL,” he said, “you can take too much cough syrup and it’s PED. Not getting into too much detail with that.”
Jones is permitted to participate in all preseason activities, including games, but will not be allowed to be with the team beginning Sept. 5. He will be eligible to return to the active roster Oct. 3 following the Colts’ game against Jacksonville in London.
“I apologized to the organization, more importantly my teammates and the fans,” Jones said. “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 and when October comes I’ll be fresh and healthy and I’ll be ready to dominate. You’d better believe that.”
Jones declared himself healthy after missing all of 2015 with an ankle injury, but seemed to hedge on whether he’ll be available when players practice for the first time Wednesday.
“I feel great, man. I’m ready to practice,” he said. “I’m with the trainers right now and whatever they tell me I need to do . . . whenever I’ll be out on the field I’ll be ready.”
Jones’ upbeat disposition aside, the suspension is the latest setback for one of general manager Ryan Grigson’s high-priced free-agent acquisitions in 2014. Since signing a five-year, $33 million contract that included $16 million in guarantees, Jones has appeared in just 12 games including the postseason.
He battled a high sprain to his right ankle in ’14, and suffered season-ending ligament damage in his left ankle last preseason.
“When you play as hard as I do, injuries happen,” Jones said. “It’s definitely frustrating. I’m definitely confident in my ability, what I can do.
“This is a mild bump in the train track, but I’m not derailed. I’m sticking to my mission. My mission was to come here and help the team win a lot of games and I can’t wait.”
But wait is precisely what the Colts must do.
Complicating Jones’ situation is the fact Henry Anderson isn’t expected to be ready for the start of the season. Last year’s third-round draft pick was in the midst of an all-rookie season when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee against Denver Nov. 8.
At least initially, the load at tackle probably falls on rookie Hassan Ridgeway and returnee Zach Kerr.
Meanwhile, the Colts and Jones will wait.
“We’re supportive of Art,” offered defensive coordinator Ted Monachino. “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 every day with us.”
Added veteran linebacker D’Qwell Jackson: “It’s tough, man, cause he’s working his tail off. I spoke to Art and he’s doing well. We’re all here for him.
“He’s going through a tough time and I’m sure when he comes back he’s going to be ready to prove everybody wrong.”