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Chuck Pagano: 'I don't know if it'll ever be the same'

File this under "good problems to have". His battle with leukemia in the rear-view mirror, Chuck Pagano's hair is beginning to grow back in an uncontrollable fashion. "It's a little gnarly," Pagano explained. "I haven't found a gel that will quite calm it down but we're still looking for one. My wife's trying to help me out."

After a roller coaster 2012, in which he accepted the first head coaching job of his career, was forced to take a leave of absence to deal with his leukemia diagnosis, pushed it into remission and then rejoined the team in the midst of its surprise run to the NFL playoffs, Pagano is now back to the normal duties of an NFL head coach, which this week requires him to attend the NFL Combine in the Colts' own Lucas Oil Stadium. On Friday, Pagano was asked if, even though he's back to his regular duties as if his battle with disease never happened, he feels like everything is back to "normal". 

"I don't know if it will ever be the same, to be honest with you," he said. "I feel 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'll ever be that way. I feel like most of that is behind me. I feel good where I'm at right now."

Yes, the 2012 season is now over in more ways than one. Pagano's mind has turned to evaluating prospects and getting his surprising Colts, which rose from the No. 1 pick to a 10-6 record and a playoff berth, to improve in 2013 in the rough, unforgiving NFL. 

"We know what the expectations are now," said Pagano. "The players have set high expectations for themselves. The bar is really high. We're just going to keep working the process and continue building the monster. I fully expect to back up last year with another great season."