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Bruce Arians, Colts firmly in Chuck Pagano's corner

As coach Chuck Pagano begins his fight against leukemia, the Indianapolis Colts plan to honor him every step of the way.

Interim coach Bruce Arians spoke a little about football and a lot about Pagano when he met with reporters Monday.

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"He will do fine," Arians told The Associated Press. "I know him. He's a fighter. He's survived tough times already in his life."

As he spoke, Arians grew emotional recalling his own struggle with prostate cancer in 2007: "As a cancer survivor myself, I know that these first few days are really hard on you, but as he and I talked yesterday, it's just a matter of time."

Colts players and personnel have learned much about Pagano during his nine months on the job. The first-year coach has manned the wheel during a period of wide-spread transition for the franchise. Arians doesn't want that to be forgotten in the days ahead.

"I asked (owner Jim) Irsay if we would leave the light on in his office permanently till he comes back," Arians said, "and we are going to do that."

Pagano's players naturally have questions about when he might return. There's no clear timeline today, but if Pagano can't make it back by Week 17, Arians believes a few additional games in January would serve as a fitting opportunity for their leader's re-entry.

"Why can't we extend the season so he can come back?" Arians said.

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

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