Metchie reaches out to Texans after being diagnosed with leukemia

HOUSTON (AP) — Before the Houston Texans started camp this week, they received a special message from a member of the team who couldn’t be there.

Rookie wide receiver John Metchie III, who previously announced he was likely to miss the season after being diagnosed with leukemia, addressed the Texans in a video before they began preparations for the season.

Coach Lovie Smith, who was promoted from defensive coordinator this offseason following the sacking of David Culley, said Friday he usually opens camp with a speech to the team. But this year he felt it was more important for the boys to hear from Metchie first.

“We’ve had a lot of questions about what’s going on with his health,” Smith said. “So I had him speak to the football team to let them know what he has in store for this year and how that will impact our football team.”

Metchie said Sunday that he was recently diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia. The Alabama second-round pick said he is taking time off from football to focus on his health and recovery.

Smith didn’t give details of what the 22-year-old Metchie shared with the team but said teammates and coaches alike were moved by his words.

“All I can say is that we have a family member who is fighting something serious,” Smith said. “We will accompany him every step of the way. At some point he will be back with our football team. We can hardly wait.”

Veteran receiver Brandin Cooks had already developed a relationship with Metchie since the draft, with the rookie likely to be fighting for game time at the receiver seat opposite Cooks.

He said seeing how optimistic he was on the video made everyone feel better about his diagnosis.

“His spirit is so amazing, his positivity runs through it all,” Cooks said. “I’m like, man, a lot of respect for you. It’s just built differently. We have no doubt that he will get through this and we will be with him every step of the way.”

General manager Nick Caserio said there was no timetable for Metchie’s return. He added that Metchie has been in touch with members of the coaching staff and that they are trying to keep him engaged with the team at this difficult time.

“But the most important thing is his health and well-being,” Caserio said. “This isn’t about football … it’s just about him recovering and being able to have a good life. And then we’ll see where we end up.”

Texans debated Metchie’s remarks on Friday, the camp’s first day open to the media. Also on Friday, Smith said rookie cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. would be restricted at the start of camp as he continues his recovery from September’s surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left foot.

But he added that the third overall draft pick would be ready for Houston’s Sept. 11 season opener against the Colts.

“Whenever a player is recovering from a serious injury, there’s a ramp here, that’s what (camp) is for,” Smith said. “Smile him in. You see him walking around healthy and doing some plays. He’s on schedule. But this is how we will treat all our players who have had serious injuries.”

Stingley was a consensus pick for the All-America in 2019 as a freshman but has been hampered by injuries in the last two seasons, including being limited to just three games last year at LSU because of the foot injury. Despite the setbacks, the Texans are confident he’ll be able to step in early and help reverse a second-rate finish that was among the league’s worst last season.

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