Pagano's return requires some delicacy

December, 20, 2012
12/20/12
3:55
PM ET
It’s a happy day in Indianapolis.

Chuck Pagano’s been medically cleared to return to work.

Per the Indianapolis Star’s Mike Chappell, Pagano’s doctor, Larry Cripe said:
“Medically, he’s 99 percent recovered from my standpoint. I have placed him on no restrictions.’’

That means Pagano could return to his capacity as the team’s head coach on Christmas Eve and be in the primary headset for the season finale against the Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium on Dec. 30.

Chappell emphasizes that Pagano has to decide if he’s feeling up to the task.

As he’s fought leukemia and endured three rounds of chemotherapy, he’s been more involved in the Colts operation than many people realized -- watching film on an iPad, texting messages to players with more than encouraging words, communicating regularly with interim coach Bruce Arians and general manager Ryan Grigson.

As his potential to return has approached, I’ve wondered a bit about the delicate balance he’ll need to strike as he re-emerges.

Here’s a team that’s gone 8-3 since Pagano was hospitalized and the team turned to Arians, who’s a leading coach of the year candidate. It's been a team with a purpose, eager to earn a playoff berth to give Pagano more to coach upon his return.

I’m sure Pagano will not come storming back in and do anything that alters the tone. But there could be ways his return affects the team’s balance.

It would be great for the Colts if they lock up their playoff berth Sunday with a win in Kansas City and don’t really have anything to be distracted from as their coach makes his way back to the front of the meeting room.

I’d think he’ll offer thanks for all the support, but turn quickly to the task at hand considering that he’s been hoping to get back to that kind of task for a long and difficult three months.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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