Colts' Pagano fighting leukemia

Published Oct. 2, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS — It took Chuck Pagano less than nine months to instill his fighter's mentality and hopeful spirit in the Colts.

He will need both to survive his biggest battle — leukemia.

In a somber news conference Monday, the Colts announced that their coach had been hospitalized for cancer treatment and probably would not return to full duties this season. Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians will replace him on an interim basis.

"He will do fine," Arians said, his voice cracking as he recalled his own fight with prostate cancer in 2007. "I know him. He's a fighter. He's survived tough times already in his life. As a cancer survivor myself, I know that these first few days are really hard on you but as he and I talked yesterday, it's just a matter of time."

The news hit hard in all corners of the team complex.

New general manager Ryan Grigson read stoically from his prepared notes, and Arians struggled to hold back tears.

"When I first heard about it, my heart dropped," cornerback Jerraud Powers said. "You think about your family members or someone that's actually been affected by it. But Chuck will fight this thing and he will beat this thing, there's no doubt in my mind.'"

The news trickled out just as players and assistant coaches returned to the team complex after the Colts' bye week and a day before Pagano's 52nd birthday.

He was admitted to an Indianapolis hospital Wednesday to begin treatments for acute promyelocytic leukemia, in which the bone marrow produces abnormal white blood cells that interfere with healthy blood cells. Symptoms can include weakness, weight loss and easy bruising or bleeding. Owner Jim Irsay said he expected Pagano to stay six to eight weeks in the hospital.

BRONCOS: Center J.D. Walton went on injured reserve with a broken and dislocated left ankle.

BROWNS: Safety T.J. Ward had surgery on his right thumb; it was unknown how long he'd be out. Receivers Josh Cribbs, Mohamed Massaquoi and Travis Benjamin missed practice for various injuries.

CHIEFS: Coach Romeo Crennel said he's sticking with Matt Cassel as the starting quarterback.

JETS: Coach Rex Ryan said X-rays showed receiver Santonio Holmes did not have a broken left foot, but that it was unknown how long Holmes would be out. … Cornerback Aaron Berry, who was arrested twice this summer and cut by the Lions, signed.

STEELERS: Injured linebacker James Harrison and safety Troy Polamalu practiced as the team returned from a bye. Harrison (left knee) has yet to play this season; Polamalu (strained right calf) has missed three games.

TITANS: Quarterback Jake Locker dislocated his left (non-throwing) shoulder in Sunday's loss to Houston but has no structural damage; coach Mike Munchak said he's day to day.