For three years, David Quessenberry fought cancer.
Now when he lines up on the field, he has to see two of the best defensive players in football, a very different challenge.
The Texans offensive lineman told Peter King of TheMMQB.com that a recent glance across the line at teammates J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney was a quick realization his comeback is taking another step.
“There’s 99 [Watt] and 90 [Clowney],” Quessenberry said. “We’re just in a jog through. But I’m thinking: I got butterflies right now! I haven’t felt this excited about a play in years. But then: ‘Okay man, this is where you’re at, you’re back. You’re not trying to maintenance chemo, you’re not just working out. You are staring across at a couple of the best players in the league. Time to play football.’”
Quessenberry lost 50 pounds during his treatment, and hasn’t practiced since 2013, when the sixth-round pick suffered a foot injury and spent the year on injured reserve. So it would be a mistake to say the routine of May practice was routine for him.
“It’s hard to put into words,” he said. “If I could describe it, I’d say first, my prayers were answered. It was so spiritual the first day back. Getting taped up, my helmet hanging in my locker, the jersey there, trainers hollering at me, riding me, teammates hollering at me, they wanted to see my back, putting my cleats on . . . all of it just special, just very very special. Because I could just feel how much everybody else on this journey with me wanted me to get back out there. My teammates never forgot me, never let me just drift away. That made this week even better.
“I woke up every day this week, and my neck was sore, fingers banged up, legs are tired and achy, I was having to drink so much water and Gatorade, sweating in the Texas sun … loving every minute of it. Really, I almost forgot how much I love this feeling, the bruises on arms, the sore shins, that sting you feel when you make a block. I missed it so much.”
Whether Quessenberry’s football comeback lasts beyond training camp will depend on his ability to block players like Watt and Clowney. But getting this far is already a win.