INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indianapolis Colts got an inspirational visit from ailing coach Chuck Pagano on Friday, two days before a game at New England.
Pagano "broke his team down" during practice, interim coach Bruce Arians said. "It was a beautiful moment ... He came and enjoyed a good bunch of sunshine and talked to the guys and it was another beautiful day."
Dozens of Indianapolis players have shaved their heads in a show of support for Pagano, who is undergoing treatment for a form of leukemia. Orange, a color used to raise awareness of the disease, is everywhere at the Colts' complex and Chuckstrong has become a common catchphrase.
Earlier this month, Pagano's physician said the coach was in "complete remission," but still faced two more rounds of chemotherapy. The Colts hope to have Pagano back on the sideline Dec. 30, Indy's regular season finale against Houston.
"That's the date," Arians said Friday. "The way he's going right now, it's going good."
Wide receiver Reggie Wayne said the visit from Pagano was welcome.
"It caught everybody by surprise," he said. "That was a great finishing to a great day of practice. Like I said, whenever he is able to address the team, give us a little words of wisdom, it's always a great feeling."
The Colts (6-3) have been one of the big surprises this season, with rookie quarterback Andrew Luck making the transition with relative ease so far. The team has rallied around Pagano, and Arians was asked if the Colts can get through the season running on emotion.
"No, I don't think emotion but I think they can with purpose, purpose being that they're not going to let each other down for one common goal," he said. " I've seen it so many times where a group of guys band together, and different slogans, 'Won't be denied', this or that or whatever, they all come up with something, this is just '1-2-3-Chuck.'"
Arians noted that Pagano passed out links of a chain to every player in the first week of the season and the message has taken hold: "Don't be the weak link. It's kind of a common thread throughout everything."
Also Friday, the Colts elevated cornerback Teddy Williams from the practice squad to the active roster, waiving cornerback Marshay Green in favor of a guy who didn't play college football.
Williams was a track and field standout at Texas-San Antonio and an undrafted free agent in 2010. He spent last season on the Cowboys' practice squad before he was waived in August. Williams, who ran the 100 meters in 9.9 seconds in college, was signed to the Colts practice squad on Oct. 30.
Tight end Coby Fleener and cornerback Vontae Davis will not play against the Patriots (6-3) on Sunday.
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