Chuck Pagano's leukemia battle shocks Colts, NFL

Colts head coach Chuck Pagano has been diagnosed with leukemia. (BRENT SMITH/Reuters file photo)

Colts head coach Chuck Pagano has been diagnosed with leukemia. (BRENT SMITH/Reuters file photo)

JOHN KRYK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:34 PM ET

Words of encouragement and well wishes poured into Indianapolis all day Monday, after the Colts announced that head coach Chuck Pagano is battling a rare form of leukemia.

Pagano, who turns 52 on Tuesday, has acute promyelocytic leukemia, a treatable form of the disease. He is on temporary leave from the team.

There is up to a 90% chance of recovery, according to some reports.

Pagano, in his first year with the Colts, is expected to be hospitalized from four to six weeks. He likely will begin chemotherapy treatments immediately.

Pagano, who had felt unusual fatigue in recent weeks, e-mailed the NFL Network's Albert Breer to say: "Will be back REAL soon."

Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians will run the team during Pagano's absence.

"I feel with every fibre in my body, and I know Chuck feels the same way, that he can beat this thing," Colts owner Jim Irsay said at an emotional morning news conference.

The Colts (1-2) play host to Green Bay on Sunday.

As shocked as the entire NFL community was upon learning the news Monday morning, Colts players were devastated.

"Short of a death, (this is) probably the worst thing you want to hear when you come in (after) a bye week," rookie quarterback Andrew Luck said.

LIONS NOT LOOKING TOO SPECIAL

Things couldn't be going much worse for the Detroit Lions. They're 1-3 after a key loss to the Minnesota Vikings, their NFC North rivals.

It's not just special teams, either, which inexplicably allowed two kick-return touchdowns for the second time in as many weeks. (Special-teams coach Danny Crossman's job is safe, the Detroit News reports.)

Other reasons:

• The Lions' celebrated defensive line is underperforming, as 13 teams now have more quarterback sacks, including all three division rivals;
• The secondary is an injury-ravaged husk and surrenders huge completions at the worst of times;
• Perhaps most surprisingly of all, the offence is moving much more incrementally this year. Calvin Johnson has 29 catches but only one touchdown. And quarterback Matt Stafford has thrown only three touchdown passes. Backup Sean Hill tossed two in the final 18 seconds against the Tennessee Titans in Week 3.

Vikings head coach Leslie Frasier said Monday his team had some blitz packages ready to go against the Lions "just in case," to get to Stafford. But Minnesota coaches determined they "really didn't have to go to them."

Getting sufficient pressure by rushing only four defensive linemen allowed the Vikings to place more men in coverage, and deeper too, to guard against those long balls that Stafford loves to throw to Johnson.

The bye week could not come at a better time for Detroit.

THERE'S NO PLIGHT LIKE HOLMES'

Wide receiver Santonio Holmes, the only decent playmaker on the New York Jets' woeful offence, will miss multiple games after hurting his left foot against the San Francisco 49ers.

X-rays Sunday night were negative, but Holmes was to have had an MRI Monday to determine what muscle or ligament damage might have occurred when he planted and twisted awkwardly. Jets head coach Rex Ryan said Holmes' Achilles tendon is fine.

Jeremy Kerley is now the Jets' leading able receiver, and he's got 10 catches.

Oh, and for the eleventy-billionth time since March, Ryan said Mark Sanchez is his starting quarterback.

NICKED UP FOR NINERS

With two offensive-line starters listed as week-to-week Monday, the Buffalo Bills' chances of winning Sunday in San Francisco went from weak to weaker.

Right guard Kraig Urbik and left tackle Cordy Glenn each suffered a high-ankle sprain to his right leg and will miss at least this game, and maybe more.

The 49ers possess one of the game's great defensive lines.

"It is not your ideal situation, obviously," Bills head coach Chan Gailey said.

Running backs Fred Jackson (right knee) and C.J. Spiller (left shoulder), however, "came through OK," Gailey said.

VICK AND McCOY ARE FINE

Michael Vick was limping around with a sore knee after he led the Philadelphia Eagles to a big 19-17 Sunday night win over the visiting New York Giants.

But on Monday head coach Andy Reid said Vick has only "a knee contusion, so he's fine."

Running back LeSean McCoy also hurt a knee, but Reid said it was merely "a little tweak" that swelled up, and that "he's OK."

KING OF THE CASSEL

Romeo Crennel, head coach of the 1-3 Kansas City Chiefs, reaffirmed his commitment to woefully inconsistent starting quarterback Matt Cassel.

Asked what it would take to ever bench Cassel in favour of backup Brady Quinn, Crennel said Monday, "If you feel that he's inept, constantly making poor decisions, bad choices, then that's when you move on from him and give someone else a chance."

So, is Quinn going to get more reps in practice this week?

"We'll see as the week goes on," Crennel said.

LOCKER 'POPS OUT' SHOULDER

Tennessee Titans quarterback Jake Locker is day-to-day with a banged-up left (non-throwing) shoulder.

The Tennessean quoted Titans head coach Mike Munchak as saying Locker's shoulder "popped out" on a hit by a Houston Texan Sunday, but that an MRI appeared similar to the one done after Locker got hit hard on the same shoulder in a Week 1 loss to New England.

Locker played the next week. Expect him to play this week, too.

Veteran Matt Hasselbeck replaced Locker Sunday and threw a pair of six-picks in another ugly Tennessee loss.

EXTRA POINTS

Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings re-injured a nagging groin injury against the Saints, and head coach Mike McCarthy suggested Jennings might not play until Green Bay's Week 6 showdown in Houston ... Running back Rashard Mendenhall is expected to make his 2012 debut for the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. He's bouncing back from off-season knee surgery ... Jaguars wide receiver Laurent Robinson suffered his second concussion in as many weeks, and his third since the start of training camp. He'll be out for a while ... To help fill the enormous hole created by the loss of cornerback Darrelle Revis, the Jets signed Detroit Lions' reject Aaron Berry, whom that club regrettably let go early in camp after his second off-season run-in with the law.

john.kryk@sunmedia.ca

@JohnKryk

blogs.canoe.ca/krykslants/


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