HOUSTON – Texans wide receiver John Metchie III is making steady progress in his recovery from a strained hamstring suffered during the first phase of the Texans’ offseason program.
And, the Texans wide receiver is on track to make a full recovery by training camp after sustaining the soft-tissue injury during a workout on the practice field.
“Everything is on target,” Texans coach DeMeco Ryans said at the close of a full-team minicamp. “I think Metchie will be good to go for training camp.”
While the Texans do expect Metchie back, they’re not inclined to set specific goals for how he’ll perform once he’s back on the field after missing his entire rookie season in the wake of being diagnosed with a treatable form of leukemia.
“I’m not setting any expectations on Metch,” Texans receivers coach Ben McDaniels said. “I certainly will not put any ceilings on him. He’s proved to everybody that’s unnecessary and he’ll attempt to shatter those ceilings. My expectations are high for him returning, whenever that is, and hitting the ground running.”
By all accounts, Metchie has made an outstanding recovery after being diagnosed last July. Now, the second-round draft pick from Alabama is making a comeback from the illness after spending last year on the non-football illness list with acute promyelocytic leukemia.
“Nobody’s worked harder to get himself to this point,” Texans general manager Nick Caserio said after the draft. “I wouldn’t say anybody is surprised that he’s arrived at this point. I’d say his will to work, his effort, his mental and physical toughness, and his work with the sports performance staff have been incredible. There are a lot of people that deserve a lot of credit that has helped him get to this point. Start with John, I would say it’s kind of inspiring to see somebody do that. He’s making progress. He’s in a good spot. Haven’t been any setbacks. Still a long road ahead of us, and he hasn’t played a lot of football. We’re all certainly cautiously optimistic about where he’s headed.”
In a nod of respect toward Metchie wide receiver Jalen Camp delivered a convincing rendition of Metchie’s trademark touchdown celebration during a preseason victory over the New Orleans Saints last August.
When Metchie scored touchdowns at Alabama he would pose in the end zone in a manner reminiscent of the crane kick from the Karate Kid movies.
It was a planned celebration as the Texans’ wide receivers wanted to pay tribute to Metchie during his battle with leukemia. The first wide receiver to score a touchdown would carry out the celebration to honor Metchie.
“When you talk about a guy like John Metchie, just hearing his story and meeting him in person, it marries up,” Texans coach DeMeco Ryans said this spring. “Outstanding young man off the field. Great energy. Always around. Every time I have seen him in the building, huge smile on his face. No matter what adversity he’s faced, he’s attacking it with a smile, with the right attitude. It just solidifies the type of person that he is and the type of people and the type of players that we want to add to our team, it’s guys with that type of attitude.”
According to medical journals, APL is a “unique subtype of Acute Myeloid Leukemia with cells in the bone marrow that produce blood cells (red cells, white cells, and platelets) that do not develop and function normally. APL begins with one or more acquired changes (mutations) to the DNA of a single blood-forming cell. APL cells have a very specific abnormality that involves chromosomes 15 and 17, leading to the formation of an abnormal fusion gene PML/RARα. This mutated gene causes many of the features of the disease.”
A common symptom of APL is bleeding due to reduced numbers of platelets and deficiencies in clotting factors. That symptom can be life-threatening and has to be managed by medical supervision to prevent complications and treat the disease.
A common treatment for APL is a highly successful drug called ATRA (all-trans retinoic acid) to target the chromosomal abnormality. Because of advances in treatment, cure rates of 90% have been reported from medical centers specializing in APL treatment.
“Recently, I was diagnosed with APL (Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia), the most curable form of Leukemia,” Metchie said in a statement before training camp. “I am currently receiving great medical care, am in good spirits, and I expect to make a recovery at a later point in time. “As a result of this diagnosis, I will likely not be playing football this season. My main focus will be on my health and recovery. Thank you in advance for your support and well wishes. I cannot wait to come back stronger than ever. God bless.”
Ryans was noncommittal on the status of starting left offensive guard Kenyon Green for the start of training camp.
Green had arthroscopic knee surgery this offseason.
Ryans wasn’t as optimistic as he has been in the past about Green.
“We’ll see where Kenyon is come training camp,” Ryans said. “For Kenyon, he has to be ready to go and the work he puts in over the next few weeks will see if he’s ready and ready to go out and compete.”
While Green wasn’t ready to participate in offseason practices, he has made progress behind the scenes in his scheduled rehabilitation from his knee surgery, per a league source, and is considered to be on track to practice during training camp.
Texans right guard Shaq Mason, signed to a three-year, $36 million contract that includes $22 million guaranteed with a $10 million signing bonus, said previously he’s been impressed with Green’s dedication.
“Kenyon, he picks my brain a lot,” Green said. “We’ve been talking. He’s been asking me things here and there. One thing I know is that he cares. That’s a big thing coming from a guy that young. He cares about his craft. He cares about studying. He doesn’t want to mess anything up. That’s a lot coming from a young guy.”
A first-round draft pick from Texas A&M and a former blue-chip recruit from Atascosita High School, Green endured a difficult rookie season, allowing four sacks with a dozen penalties assessed as he started 14 games and experienced some growing pains while blocking some of the top interior defensive linemen in the NFL
“It’s just like my freshman season of college, a lot of learning curves, a lot of just growing pains,” Green told KPRC 2 at the end of the season. “Especially having good vets around me, staying on me, keeping me up on everything, I’m 21 years old. I’m just excited to keep growing.”
Green allowed 47 pressures in 823 snaps. He had a 37.7 Pro Football Focus blocking grade, a 27.0 pass protection mark for the season, including a season-low 3.6 pass-blocking grade against the Washington Commanders when he struggled to slow down the charge of defensive tackles Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne. Green gave up two sacks and five pressures in that loss.
However, Green may have played his best game of the season in the finale against the Indianapolis Colts as he displayed signs of progress.
Between the Commanders’ game and giving up one sack, seven hurries and nine pressures in a loss to the Tennessee Titans and Jeffery Simmons, Green had a lot of tough matchups.
“It was a good group of players, for sure,” Green said. “It helped me learn. It helped me to go through with perseverance, keeping the same even keel and making me work on my techniques, my hands, my feet. I’m excited to keep going.”
Green had his moments, especially as a run blocker, pulling and leading interference for rookie running back Dameon Pierce, an NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate and Pro Bowl alternate.
Signed to a four-year, fully guaranteed $15.9 million contract that includes a fifth-year club option, Green (6-foot-4, 323 pounds) was a finalist for the Lombardi award for the Aggies before declaring early for the NFL draft.
He didn’t have a full offseason, though, to prepare for his rookie year.
Green underwent knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus last offseason. He suffered a concussion during training camp.
“I’m going to use this offseason to get my body right and have a full offseason,” Green said previously. “I’m going to talk to my agent and staff and get a good plan and get all the potential and all the time and all of the work I can to get better this offseason.”
Green has set his ambitions on being an elite lineman, like Texans Pro Bowl left tackle Laremy Tunsil, an All-Pro candidate, and Howard.
“For sure, I want to be All-Pro,” Green said. “I want to be up there with LT and Tytus. I’m trying to learn everything. I can’t wait.”
Aaron Wilson is a Texans NFL reporter for KPRC 2 and click2houston.com