BEHIND THE CHUTES: Harris/Jones Returning in Colorado Springs

PUEBLO, Colo. – Two Top-15 bull riders in the world standings are set to return to action at this weekend’s Built Ford Tough Series Rumble in the Rockies in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

According to the PBR competition committee, No. 10 J.W. Harris and No. 11 Ben Jones are both in the draw after missing the Des Moines Invitational with herniated discs in their necks.

Both riders are slated to compete in the 15/15 Bucking Battle as well on Saturday night. The matchups for the 15/15 Bucking Battle will not be announced until the Rumble in the Rockies kickoff party on Saturday afternoon.

Jones informed on Wednesday that he has been advised to undergo surgery for a herniated disc in his neck, but he is hoping to wait until after Last Cowboy Standing, the feature event of Cowboy Spring Break on May 22-23 in Las Vegas.

“I have a herniated disc in my neck and it’s pinching down on my nerves and down my left arm,” Jones said. “They wanted me to do (surgery) this week, but I am not keen on surgery. I would be out for eight to nine weeks.”

The 36-year-old believes he may have sustained the injury in St. Louis against Who Dey, but isn’t sure.

According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, Jones had re-aggravated a pre-existing neck injury in the second round of competition in Billings, Montana, when he was bucked off by Funkytown in 2.4 seconds.

Jones explained that he doesn’t feel much pain in his free arm, instead it is a weird, uncomfortable feeling.

“It is weird,” Jones said. “It is freaking been a dead feeling down your arm. You just can’t do stuff with it like you used to. It is just a weird feeling to tell you the truth. You feel good, you just can’t do stuff. I am not sore like I broke a leg or anything.”

Jones has been off to his best start in three years and is on pace for his best finish in the world standings since concluding 2012 18th in the world. He has gone 14-for-38 (36.84 percent) with four Top-10 finishes.

Jones said he is going to test things out in Colorado Springs and see if he can compete at the BlueDEF Velocity Tour event in Uvalde, Texas, or any other Touring Pro Division events before Last Cowboy Standing.

Jones has bucked off four consecutive bulls. He takes on Vegas Outlaw (2-0, BFTS) in the first round and Western Hauler (16-9, BFTS) in the second round at The Broadmoor World Arena.

Harris has been undergoing therapy on his riding arm after dealing with numbness in his riding hand that caused him to miss the Des Moines Invitational. The 28-year-old has been diagnosed with a herniated disc in his neck and believes the injury occurred in Seattle when he was bucked off in 2.44 seconds during the Built Ford Tough Championship Round.

“No surgery yet,” Harris said. “(I’ll) just rehab and see what happens.”

The four-time PRCA champion will attempt to break out of his 0-for-8 slump when he faces Pile Driver (3-0, BFTS) in Round 1 and Blame It On Mexico (2-1, BFTS) in Round 2. Blame It On Mexico bucked off Kaique Pacheco in 2.29 seconds last weekend in Des Moines.

In other injury news, there are six riders inside the Top 30 of the world standings officially out for Colorado Springs: No. 7 Silvano Alves (fractured hip), No. 18 Chase Outlaw (right shoulder dislocation/torn rotator cuff), No. 19 L.J. Jenkins (broken neck-C1), No. 20 Tanner Byrne (undisclosed injury), No. 21 Kasey Hayes (compression fractures-L1,2,3)- and No. 22 Renato Nunes (abdominal laceration).

Billy Robinson is returning to competition for the first time since tearing his left PCL in Sacramento, California, on Jan. 30. He has drawn Handsome Jeff (0-0, BFTS ) in Round 1 and Page Break in Round 2. Robinson will have three exemptions before being subject to the BFTS cutline. He enters the weekend 427.5 points behind No. 30 Bonner Bolton and 170 points behind No. 41 Alexandre Cardozo – the last alternate rider in the draw this weekend.

Cardozo is one of four alternates in the Colorado Springs draw with Cody Tyler White (-22.5 points back of No. 35 Robson Palermo), Bryan Titman (-32.5 points) and Lachlan Richardson (-57.5 points).

Markus Mariluch has three more exemptions left before being subject to the cut and he has yet to earn any points toward the world standings. He has gone 1-for-10 since debuting in Seattle.

Mariluch will look to turn things around against Flyin Crazy (5-2, BFTS) and Celling Bioscience’s Jukebox Hero (4-11, BFTS).

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

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