It took Chuck Pagano less than nine months to instill his fighter's mentality and hopeful spirit in the Indianapolis Colts.
He will need both to survive the biggest battle of his life leukemia.
In a somber news conference Monday, the Colts announced that their new coach had been hospitalized for cancer treatment and probably would not return to full coaching duties this season. He will be replaced on an interim basis by offensive coordinator Bruce Arians.
"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."
After practice, players signed a get-well card that read in part, "We are in your corner 100 percent. Get rest, but we can't wait to get our leader back." The usually jovial comments were replaced by concerned looks and serious discussion about life not football.
"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 publicly just as players and assistant coaches were returning to the team complex after the Colts' bye week and one day before Pagano's 52nd birthday.
He was admitted to an Indianapolis hospital last Wednesday to begin treatments for acute promyelocytic leukemia, an illness 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.
Around the league
Broncos • Denver has placed center J.D. Walton on injured reserve with a broken and dislocated left ankle. Walton was hurt just before halftime in the Broncos' 37-6 win over Oakland on Sunday when Raiders defensive end Jack Crawford inadvertently crashed into his legs as he was making the tackle on running back Lance Ball. Walton was replaced by Dan Koppen, who was signed three weeks ago after his release by New England, where he spent nine seasons.
Titans • Jake Locker has no structural damage to his left, non-throwing shoulder and coach Mike Munchak says the Titans quarterback will be day-to-day this week. Locker dislocated his shoulder Sunday early in a 38-14 loss to Houston.
Jets • Receiver Santonio Holmes is expected to be sidelined at least a few weeks after injuring his left foot Sunday during New York's 34-0 loss to San Francisco. Coach Rex Ryan said X-rays on the wide receiver's foot were negative, but the team was awaiting results of an MRI exam. Also Monday, the Jets signed cornerback Aaron Berry, who was arrested twice this summer and cut by Detroit. With All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis likely out for the season with a torn ligament in his left knee, Berry gives the Jets much-needed depth to their secondary.
Seahawks • Despite the continued struggles of Seattle's offense and the worst passing game in the NFL, coach Pete Carroll is not ready to make a switch from rookie Russell Wilson at quarterback. Any decision to make a switch is complicated by backup Matt Flynn's sore elbow.