It took a little longer than he expected, but Texans offensive lineman David Quessenberry made his NFL debut in Monday’s 34-6 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Quessenberry was diagnosed with cancer (non-Hodgkin T-lymphoblastic lymphoma) in 2014, just a year after he was drafted by the Texans. He had been on the team’s non-football illness list since 2015, but he played this preseason. The Texans cut Quessenberry prior to the regular season but re-signed him to the practice squad, before he was promoted on Wednesday.

Quessenberry was named a team captain and was out on the field for the coin toss, an honor he said he was not expecting. The 27-year-old was emotional after the game, calling the experience “something special.” “It was everything I dreamed of while I was going through my treatments,” Quessenberry said. “Getting out there and playing a full-speed game today was exactly how I’d hoped it went.” “[I had] butterflies when they called my personnel. Running out there and then getting down in my stance, and once I started hearing the quarterback’s cadence, instincts take over and you just go and make your blocks.”

Throughout his battle with cancer and return to football, Quessenberry has said how important his teammates and this Texans’ coaching staff have been to helping him make it through. According to wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, Quessenberry has been an inspiration to everyone else. “Everybody in this locker room feeds off his energy,” Hopkins said. “What he went through to come out and still be able to come and be part of this team every day like nothing happened to him, everybody feeds off of his energy, honestly. I don’t know if he knows it, but everybody in this locker room looks up to him.”

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