Texans' John Metchie III on NFL debut: 'Amazing feeling'

HOUSTON -- It had been 652 days since Houston Texans wide receiver John Metchie III played in a game that counted.

Metchie made his NFL debut against the Indianapolis Colts as the Texans (0-2) lost 31-20 on Sunday. He returned to the field after dealing with a torn ACL in 2021 and being diagnosed with leukemia in July 2022, which caused him to miss all of his rookie season.

The 2022 second-round pick out of Alabama finished with one catch for 17 yards, but the stat line was the least of his concerns as he appreciated the moment of returning to the field.

"It was an amazing feeling," Metchie told ESPN. "Something I thought about every day in the hospital, so it was great to be out there playing football."

Metchie gained a grander appreciation for life and football and called it a "blessing" to be back in action after the tribulations. But now he's focusing on "looking forward."

"It was a great feeling, but it wasn't like, 'OK, I got here now. Everything's complete.' Right?" Metchie said. "It's just a good feeling to know I had been tested and then I came through on the other side. Now, it's just to continue to go and continue to aspire."

Metchie continues to work his way back into the Texans' wide receiver rotation as he played in 17.7% of the offensive snaps against the Colts, the fewest among his position group. He's still knocking off rust, as the last meaningful game he participated in was on Dec. 4, 2021, when he tore his ACL against the University of Georgia in the SEC championship game.

But even through the limited snaps and production, he's not dwelling on the difficulties.

"Those moments I went through and that time I went through taught me that you can have those things, but just as long as the sun comes [out] tomorrow and you're there for it, you're going to be all right. And you get to show up again," Metchie said. "It's not all or nothing in a sense that, like one loss, isn't the death of you. You just have to show up, learn from your mistakes, and continue to get better."