INDIANAPOLIS – Chuck Pagano has an infectious, witty personality, even on a slow day.
Friday was not a slow day and when Pagano visited the combine media center, he brought his "A-game," sharing the same genuine sentiment that Ryan Grigson did a day ago.
While both appreciate last year, they want more of the same this year from their team.
"We set our expectations high a year ago when we got here. We knew where everybody basically had us based on the turnover in the front office, coaching staff, players," said Pagano. "We know what the expectations are now. The bar is really high. We're just going to keep continuing to build the monster. We fully expect to back up last year with another great season."
Pagano led with light banter, sporting a growth of hair that is "a little gnarly" and that he has not been able to tame with gel. All things considered, he "feels great and very fortunate to be back here and doing this combine deal."
Pagano has touched up his coaching staff with a few additions, including new offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, and the combine provides a chance to find any needed assortments to the 2013 roster.
"We're going to look at everything," said Pagano. "We've analyzed ourselves pretty good, delved in (deeply) as far as self-scout. There are some areas there we all know that need to be addressed. We're not going to just earmark one or two areas. We're going to take a look at everybody here and hopefully plug in a few pieces to help us."
Pagano says his health has returned to a large extent, but does not know if he ever will feel the same prior to contracting leukemia. He still takes medication a couple of weeks a month and still has regular checkups. All is fine, and he says the belief when remission is complete is after five years.
Inquiring minds quizzed him on the new look of the offense under Hamilton. Pagano kept things under wraps.
"It's probably a little bit premature to say what we're going to look like next fall," said Pagano. "I really don't want to give that out. He's got some great ideas. Football is pure to him. He loves to run the ball, loves to take his shots down the field. We're not going to waste any plays."
The entire team came in for praise from the second-year field leader. Pagano cited his players' resilience in 2012, bouncing back from defeats by posting victories. With a young roster and an interim coach, Bruce Arians, in Pagano's absence, the Colts posted only the ninth season in the franchise's 60 years without consecutive losses.
Pagano said he looks for Jerry Hughes to come in with an effort to fill the void of Dwight Freeney's impending departure. It is hoped the fourth-year linebacker can make a consistent impact in a new opportunity.
Pagano's history includes a special teams expertise. Re-signing Pat McAfee is big in Pagano's mind.
"He's a major priority in free agency. Obviously, we've reached out and are working to get Pat re-signed," said Pagano. "We saw what he did for us last year. He's a great weapon, not only kickoffs and touchbacks. I sat in a hospital bed and from home for 12 weeks and watched him pin guys back inside the 20, inside the 10 over and over again.
"To have a weapon like that is a tremendous asset to a team. It helps with field position, helps our offense, helps our defense, set up long fields for opponent's offenses, things like that. It's a huge priority getting Pat back."