Texans WR John Metchie III 'making progress' toward NFL debut after 2022 leukemia diagnosis

Metchie, the Texans' 2nd-round pick in 2022, was a full participant in April offseason programs

The Texans drafted John Metchie in the second round of the 2022 draft. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)
The Texans drafted John Metchie in the second round of the 2022 draft. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

John Metchie III is inching toward his NFL debut after he missed his entire rookie season with leukemia.

The Houston Texans' 2022 second-rounder was a full participant in the team's first voluntary offseason workouts this past week and general manager Nick Caserio thinks Metchie has a good chance to play in 2023.

"Nobody's worked harder over the last however many months to get himself to this point," Caserio said Saturday after the draft. "So I wouldn't say anybody is surprised that he's arrived at this point. I would say his will to work, his effort, mental and physical toughness, and the work that the sports performance staff has been incredible.

“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.”

Metchie announced his Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia (APL) diagnosis on July 24, 2022, just days before training camp started after he had already almost finished his recovery from a torn ACL at the end of his collegiate career. The Texans ruled him out for his rookie season but many believed Metchie's diagnosis wasn't career-ending.

Caserio appeared hopeful in January that Metchie would be ready to return to the field by April — nine months after that diagnosis — and his assertion was correct.

Metchie is no stranger to adversity. He was born in Taiwan, moved to Ghana when he was one year old and grew up outside Toronto, Canada, before he attended an American boarding school in Maryland at 14. He missed part of his freshman high school season in 2014 after doctors discovered he had an enlarged heart that was causing murmurs. And then, after a solid three-year career at Alabama, Metchie suffered an ACL tear in the SEC championship game on Dec. 4, 2021.

If he suits up in Week 1, it'll be around 21 months since Metchie played in a football game. That will certainly complicate his role on offense as Houston eases him back onto the team.

He'll join a room with veteran wideout Robert Woods, emerging talent Nico Collins, former Dallas Cowboys receiver Noah Brown and 2023 third-rounder Tank Dell. No. 2 pick C.J. Stroud will need all the help he can get in his first season with the Texans, and Metchie has a chance to play an important role in his development.