Arians can’t wait to hand Colts back to Pagano

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The Colts are holding out hope Chuck Pagano can return to the sidelines this year.

And when or if he does, they want him calling all the shots.

“If he comes back,” interim coach Bruce Arians said, via Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star, “he’ll be the head coach and taking back over.”

Pagano’s been on indefinite leave since being diagnosed with leukemia in September, and Arians said since taking over his goal was to “extend the season,” to give Pagano time to return for the Dec. 30 regular season finale, or the playoffs.

“Each game now has become more important and our goal is in sight,’’ Arians said. “As long as we’ll stay within the moment we’ll be playing when he comes back. That has always been our goal since he got sick, to extend the season.

“His footprints and handprints are all over the team. It’s his team.’’

Pagano’s still breaking down film and talking to players and Arians during his treatment, and has made occasional trips to the team complex. He’s been on hand for the last two home games, and told Chappell via text “All is good.”

“Very humbling experience on Sunday,’’ Pagano texted. “The support has been unbelievable.’’

Doctors have declared his leukemia in remission, and Arians said he thinks staying connected to his team is an important part of that.

“Being around football, I think, is one of the things that’s getting him well,’’ Arians said. “The more he can be in the building and be around the guys when it’s not detrimental to his health, it’s unbelievable medicine for him.

“Being able to break down film and being able to do all the things he’s doing at the house and texting guys, . . . those things are fabulous medicine to help a person get well. You have to have a reason to want to get well. When you have one as strong as this, it’s great medicine.”

The story has been a stirring one, and if the hope is that Pagano has many more chances to coach, both this year and beyond.