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Texans’ John Metchie III expects to miss rookie season with leukemia

“I cannot wait,” said 22-year wide receiver John Metchie III, “to come back stronger than ever.” (David J. Phillip/AP)

Houston Texans wide receiver John Metchie III revealed Sunday that he was diagnosed with a form of leukemia that is likely to sideline him for his rookie season.

Describing his diagnosed condition, acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL), as “the most curable form” of the disease, Metchie expressed an optimistic outlook.

“I am currently receiving great medical care, am in good spirits and I expect to make a recovery at a later point in time,” he said in a statement shared by the Texans.

“I cannot wait,” the 22-year-old wide receiver added, “to come back stronger than ever.”

A second-round pick out of Alabama, Metchie has been recovering from surgery to fix a torn knee ligament he suffered during the SEC title game in December. He was able to participate on a limited basis in some offseason training activities with the Texans and had stated he hoped to be at full strength for training camp, which began Sunday.

Metchie said in his statement he “will likely not be playing football this season.” He added, “My main focus will be on my health and recovery.”

According to the National Institutes of Health’s Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center, APL is estimated to be afflicting fewer than 3,000 people in the United States. It is described as a condition in which an overabundance of immature blood-forming cells (promyelocytes) in the blood and bone marrow results in a deficit in white and red blood cells and platelets. APL can lead to excessive bleeding or blood clots, and other symptoms may include anemia, anorexia, fatigue, vertigo and muscle weakness.

Approximately 90 percent of APL patients reach full remission, per the Canadian Cancer Society, with a long-term survival rate of 70 to 90 percent.

“John has overcome every challenge placed in front of him in his life with toughness and determination, and we are behind him every step of the way in his fight against leukemia,” Alabama Coach Nick Saban said in a statement. “It’s a blessing that he is in a city known for great medical care and with an organization, in the Houston Texans, who will be with him throughout his journey. Our thoughts and prayers will remain with him throughout this battle.”

The Texans, who had traded up to land Metchie with the 44th pick in April’s draft despite his knee injury, placed him Sunday on the non-football illness list.

A native of Ontario, after being born in Taiwan and spending his earliest years in Ghana, Metchie twice won the Jon Cornish Trophy as the top Canadian player on college football. He led Alabama last season with 96 receptions, racking up 1,142 yards and eight touchdowns.

“If you spend some time to getting to know his story, his story is probably as unique as anybody in the draft,” Texans General Manager Nick Caserio said after drafting Metchie. “He’s very worldly, this kid is an awesome kid, very smart, very studious, tough as nails.”

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