INDIANAPOLIS — Arthur Jones is officially back, and he's more than ready to throw on the pads and hit somebody after missing the first four weeks of the season.
The defensive tackle was suspended without pay for the first four games of the 2016 regular season for violating the league's policy on performance enhancing substances, so he used his time away from the team working as hard as possible so that by the time Week 5 rolled around, he'd be as close to game ready as possible.
On Saturday, the Indianapolis Colts officially activated Jones to the 53-man roster, meaning he'll be available to play Sunday in the team's Week 5 matchup against the Chicago Bears at Lucas Oil Stadium.
"It feels great," Jones said this week. "I'm taking it one day at a time … I'm excited to be in the building and to see my teammates, the coaches. It's a great organization and I'm happy and I'm blessed to have this opportunity right now. I'm taking full advantage of it."
For Jones, the rest of the season provides the 30-year-old veteran with an opportunity to prove himself, not only on the heels of a league suspension, but after two-plus trying seasons in Indianapolis.
Jones signed with the Colts as a free agent in 2014, agreeing to a reported five-year deal worth more than $30 million. At the time, he was coming off a combined 100 tackles and 8.5 sacks the previous two seasons with the Baltimore Ravens — production few 3-4 defensive ends available at the time could match.
But his journey in Indianapolis hasn't been as fruitful to this point. In 2014, his first season in Indianapolis, he suffered a painful right ankle sprain and played in nine games, totaling 24 tackles, 1.5 sacks and one forced fumble. Last season, Jones wouldn't play a single down after suffering a left ankle injury during the third preseason game.
Going into this past offseason, Jones was still getting back to 100 percent and working with the team's medical staff to make a full return to the practice field by training camp. While his suspension allowed him to be fully active throughout camp and the team's preseason games, Jones acknowledged that not being on the field much the past two seasons has been challenging on the mind and body.
Now, he says he has "a lot of things" that he wants to prove.
"Being the guy who they brought me here to be, staying healthy and just being accountable and giving it all for my teammates," Jones said of his goals. "I'm excited. No one was happier to be at practice than I am today because I'm so excited to be in here and I'm blessed for this opportunity."
Colts head coach Chuck Pagano says Jones is "in a great place mentally" after going through some trying times.
"He knows what's at stake," Pagano said. "The reality of it is that 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."
Defensive coordinator Ted Monachino says from a physical perspective, Jones has never looked better. Now it's time to translate that back onto the field, much like he did when he was with the Ravens.
"I'm encouraged with where Arthur is," Monachino said. "I know that he's still in the process of getting all the way back, but we've seen enough already on the practice field to think that he's going to be a viable option for us inside."
Jones knows the Colts, who enter the Bears game with a 1-3 record, could use another force up front to get to the quarterback and to make big plays against the run. After watching from home for the first four weeks of the season, he's confident that he can be just that for Monachino and the Indianapolis defense.
"Absolutely, it was definitely frustrating watching," Jones said. "I know that we've got a great team, an amazing team. My season starts today and I can't wait to do well."