Indianapolis coach Chuck Pagano close to making return

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The Indianapolis Colts hope head coach Chuck Pagano will be back on the sideline next week.

While no official announcement has been made by the team, interim coach Bruce Arians and others have pegged the Dec. 30 regular-season finale against Houston as Pagano’s possible return date.

He has not been on the sideline since late September after starting the first of three rounds of chemotherapy in his battle against leukemia.

Arians said this week that Pagano “felt great” and “looked good” and his white blood-cell counts were good -- all indications he could be return next week.

REDSKINS: Robert Griffin III had a full practice with the first team on Wednesday.

The quarterback said he ran plays at full-speed, hoping to persuade doctors to clear him for Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles. He sprained his right knee Dec. 9 against Baltimore.

SAINTS: Quarterback Drew Brees has expressed confidence that coach Sean Payton will return to the team in 2013.

There was speculation a few weeks ago when it was revealed that Payton’s contract extension with the Saints was voided.

It led some to believe Payton was trying to get out of his deal with the Saints, and if Dallas let go of coach Jason Garrett, Payton would take the Cowboys’ job.

“I’m very confident that Sean will be back here in New Orleans,” Brees said. “So (we’ve) just been trying to focus on football and not think about that.”

BILLS: Center Eric Wood wasn’t laughing when referring to Buffalo’s playing so-called home games in Toronto as being “a joke.”

That was the opinion Wood expressed during his weekly show on Buffalo’s WGRF-Radio on Monday, a day after a 50-17 loss to Seattle at Toronto. And he stuck by his comments Wednesday, saying he believes the Bills are giving away their home-field edge by playing under a dome and in front of ambivalent crowds north of the border.

“Yeah, I did call it a joke,” Wood said. “It stunk that we were up there. And I was heated when I said it was a joke. And I’m not going to sit here and retract all my statements because that’s what I meant and what I felt.”


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