By Tom James
For the Pharos-Tribune
The good news keeps coming for the Indianapolis Colts.
One day after the Colts registered their third straight win with a 23-20 decision over the Miami Dolphins at Lucas Oil Stadium, doctors for Chuck Pagano confirmed Monday that the Indianapolis coach’s leukemia is now in remission.
“He’s doing great. We know what’s coming, the downhill slide is yet to come. It’s great news. To me it’s kind of like talking to him about the playoffs this week. One day at a time, one play at a time,” interim coach Bruce Arians said, adding that Pagano visited the team’s Farm Bureau Insurance complex Monday morning.
The Colts first-year coach, who was initially diagnosed on Sept. 26, had not been with the team since he began receiving treatments for the disease at the IU Health Simon Cancer Center. After already completing the first of three rounds of chemotherapy at the hospital a couple weeks ago, he was scheduled to start a second round on Monday.
Pagano had been convalescing at home since being released on Oct. 21. He made his first appearance in the Lucas Oil Stadium locker room prior to the Miami game in order to speak to the team. A second visit came in the minutes following the win over the Dolphins.
“He’s getting ready [for the second round of chemotherapy]. I’m not sure of the proper medical terms but they put in a stint of some sort to start his chemo again. His [blood white cell] count was great. He knows that this next one is going to be really tough and we’re praying for him and he’s going to be fine,” Arians said.
“Once he comes back from round two and is about to head into round three, our goal is for him to be on the sideline December 30 [home game with AFC South rival Houston]. There’s some down time coming, but it’s great to see him here.”
Pagano’s doctors confirmed his remission at the IU Health Simon Cancer Center. Arians was conducting the Colts’ regular Monday press conference when the news reached the team’s headquarters.
Dr. Larry Cripe, the coach’s oncologist, acknowledged in interviews with several Indianapolis media outlets that while Pagano’s leukemia is in remission, he is not cured. According to Cripe, treatment for acute promyelocytic leukemia includes a total of three rounds of chemotherapy and continued maintenance for at least two more years.
He added that a recent bone marrow aspirate test did not detect leukemia. A final determination that the disease has cured can’t be made for another four to five years.
Colts-Patriots game flexed
The starting time of Indianapolis’ Nov. 18 road game with the New England Patriots has been changed from 1 p.m. to 4:25 p.m. ET.
CBS Sports will carry the game and opted to move the time of the kickoff due to the renewed interest in the Colts and rookie quarterback Andrew Luck. A matchup between Luck and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made the change more appealing to potential viewers.
Arians said Monday that cornerback Vontae Davis (knee) and rookie tight end Coby Fleener (shoulder) will both miss a second straight game.
Davis and Fleener were both hurt against Tennessee two weeks ago and neither played in the win over Miami. The rest of the Colts’ injury list remains up in the air in regards to their availability to play Thursday night at Jacksonville.
“No big news as far as injuries. Vontae Davis and Coby Fleener will still be out. Everyone else will be day-to-day. We’ll see how we get through [Monday],” Arians said.
Outside linebacker Robert Mathis (back), center Samson Satele (back), offensive tackle Winston Justice (knee), wide receiver Donnie Avery (hip flexor), cornerback Jerraud Powers (toe) and running back Donald Brown (knee) are all potential game-day decisions.
Brown saw limited work in the Miami game. After playing against the Titans a week earlier, he began to develop some soreness and swelling in his surgically-repaired knee. He had missed two games with the injury before returning to play against Tennessee.
“I could have come back in and played [against the Dolphins] if they needed me too,” Brown said Monday.
Arians wanted to get him into the game early. Brown caught one swing pass for seven yards before going to the sidelines for the rest of the day.
“We thought was going to be able to go and play [Brown] on third down and the knee just wouldn’t let him, so Vick [Ballard] stepped up and Delone [Carter] stepped up,” the Colts coach said.
With a short week to prepare for the nationally-televised game with the Jaguars (NFL Network), practice time has been limited to a walkthrough Monday, a full session today and a walkthrough Wednesday.
Indianapolis will then travel to Jacksonville Wednesday night. Arians understands why there are Thursday night games, but he’s not a big fan of them either.
“The recovery time from Sunday to Thursday is ridiculous, especially after playing a very physical game, and then to have to travel. When you add the travel in, you may get some swelling out of your body. But on that airplane, you’re going to swell right back up. It’s just happened too many times, I’ve seen guys that go in the game, get off the flight, and can’t walk,” he said.
“The traveling part of it is an added problem to an injury. So it’s tough. The mental part of it it’s taxing on us also.”