- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Chuck Pagano joked with reporters at the NFL scouting combine that the only restriction his doctors have put on him pertains to very little media access.
Pagano got several big laughs in his first news conference of the offseason. The coach of the Indianapolis Colts missed 12 games in his first season with the club while going through treatment for leukemia.
Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians stepped in as interim coach, won nine of 12 games and was named Coach of the Year. Now he is the head coach in Arizona, and Pagano is looking forward to building on a surprising playoff season.
"I'm doing great," Pagano said. "My hair's coming back in. It's a little gnarly. I haven't found a gel yet that will quite calm it down. My wife's looking for one to help me out. But I feel great and I'm obviously very fortunate to be back here and doing this combine deal."
Pagano made it back to the sideline and coached the Colts' final regular-season game and their playoff loss in Baltimore.
He was asked when he felt like he was "back."
"I don't know if that will ever be the same, to be honest with you," he said. "I feel pretty normal now as far as going through the normal stuff that a football coach goes through on a day-in, day-out basis. Whether it will ever be exactly the same, I don't think it will ever be that way."
Pagano spoke confidently about Andrew Luck heading toward a second season, now under his old Stanford coordinator Pep Hamilton. The coached raved about the resiliency the team showed last season, addressed the value of pending free-agent punter Pat McAfee and discussed the health of his defensive tackles coming off knee injuries.
"How about that?" Pagano said, laughing at himself. "I wonder why I said that. Are we looking for a fullback? I don't think he's available. Can we scratch that from the record?
"You don't get any do-overs in this stuff, do you? Blame it on the chemo. I've still got a pass for a few days, I think. Who are we talking about?"