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Texans WR John Metchie III: I feel '110 percent' following return from cancer

Houston Texans wide receiver John Metchie III missed his entire rookie campaign last year while battling leukemia along with a torn ACL suffered in his final collegiate game.

Heading toward the 2023 season, the former second-round pick said he feels fully healthy.

"Yeah, I feel 110 percent, actually," Metchie said on Thursday. "... I feel better now than I ever did in college, and I feel better than I was before I got diagnosed, so 110 percent, for sure."

"Cleared" has been a keyword in Metchie's world this past year. Cleared from the ACL injury. Cleared from the hamstring issue he dealt with earlier this offseason. Cleared to participate in training camp after his battle with cancer.

"Just gratitude," Mechie said on Thursday when asked how he felt when cleared to participate in practice. "I was really grateful that I was just able to come out here and start playing the game I love again, worry-free."

A star at Alabama, Metchie combined precise route running with YAC upside. He generated 2,058 yards and 14 touchdowns in his final two years with the Crimson Tide, including 96 catches for 1,142 yards and eight scores in 2021.

Then the ACL tear happened. Then the cancer diagnosis. Then the hamstring issue.

"This entire year has been eventful for sure," Metchie said, understating his experience. "It's had its ups and downs, but being back on the field feels great. It's been a long way coming, but it definitely feels like a blessing, and it's something you're grateful for every day."

The 23-year-old spoke openly to reporters about his challenges, admitting he considered what it would be like never to play football again.

"Yeah, I'm not gonna sit here and say, 'No,' " he said when asked if it crossed his mind. "I feel like at the beginning stages, of course, you don't know what's gonna happen. You don't know what the future has in store for you. You, of course, hope that you can overcome it and play football, but I would say probably in the beginning stages, there might've been some doubt. But I've had a strong faith. I had a strong faith then, and I have a strong faith now."

At the nascent stages of training camp, so far, so good for the wideout entering his first season of NFL action.

"John Metchie's demeanor, it hasn't changed," Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans said on Thursday. "He's the same. He's consistent. He's positive. He's a hard worker. Whenever he's out here at practice, he's giving everything he has. You see him after practice doing extra. He's trying to perfect his craft. So, excited with his mentality and work ethic. It's cool to see."

Metchie is a wild card, not having played a game in nearly 20 months. In a receiving corps with Nico Collins, veteran Robert Woods, Noah Brown, third-round-pick Tank Dell and sixth-rounder Xavier Hutchinson, Metchie could carve out a significant role in 2023.

"I feel like I beat the toughest battle, and now living and being me is kinda just to be free and be confident in myself and my body of work and who I am," Metchie said. "Of course, there's a learning curve of learning the plays, getting with the team chemistry and all of that, but as far as comfort in myself and my game, I have that completely."

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