David Quessenberry’s return was an emotional one. (Eric Christian Smith / Associated Press)

David Quessenberry finally made his NFL debut on Christmas Day, a debut that had been sidetracked and delayed three years because of cancer.

When the Houston Texans offensive lineman took the field, it was about as emotional a moment as you would expect.

“It was everything I dreamed of while I was going through my treatments,” Quessenberry said, choking up at his locker after the game (via the Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson). “Playing a full-speed game was exactly how I’d hoped it went. I would say it was very emotional for me and the people around me and for my family watching. It was just something special.”

A sixth-round draft pick in 2013 out of San Jose State, Quessenberry was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin T-lymphoblastic lymphoma when he had difficulty breathing during minicamp in June 2014. He underwent treatment at Houston’s renowned M.D. Anderson Cancer Center following a protocol in which he lost and regained 70 pounds. Finally, he was able to join the Texans for OTAs in May, and in September he was waived by the team, then signed to the practice squad the next day. He was promoted to the active roster Dec. 19, another emotional milestone.

“That’s amazing for what he’s overcome, cancer. Right there alone, just for him to even be able to be normal in life and not just come out on the football field but just be a normal person, a lot of people don’t come back from that, especially what he had and how bad it was,” DeAndre Hopkins said last week. “For a guy in my [draft] class especially, I feel a little bit more happy for him because not many from my class are still here. But what he’s battled, I mean, this whole organization, this whole city’s been behind him. So, it’s no surprise.”

Quessenberry was made a team captain for the game and got onto the field when he lined up as an extra blocker in the Texans’ 34-6 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“I had butterflies when they called my personnel running out there and getting down in my stance,” Quessenberry said. “Once I started hearing the quarterback’s cadence, instincts take over and you go make your blocks.”

He makes it sound like business as usual when it was anything but that.

“You think about what he’s come back from. We’ve been here the whole time. I can remember every step of the way,” Coach Bill O’Brien said Wednesday. “To overcome what he’s overcome, to be able to step back onto the field in an NFL football game, is an incredible accomplishment for him. And I know for him, he’s such a driven guy, he really wants to go out there and play well.”

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