Sources: Texans meet with elite TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston

INDIANAPOLIS -- Imposing TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston, an elite draft prospect, has met privately with the Texans at the NFL scouting combine, according to league sources.

Johnston has also met with the Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans, Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions.

At 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, Johnston is one of the biggest and best wide receivers available. He’s expected to post a 42-inch vertical leap and has the athleticism to jump over or run past defensive backs to create separation.

Johnston has an outstanding size-speed combination, can high-point the football,

The Temple native helped lead TCU to the national championship game against Georgia.

A two-time All-Big 12 selection, Johnston caught 60 passes for 1,069 yards and six touchdowns last season and 33 passes for 612 yards and six touchdowns in 2021 before declaring early for the NFL draft.

He averaged 17.8 yards per catch last season.

He averaged 22.1 yards per reception as a freshman, catching 22 passes for 487 yards and two scores.

Johnston initially committed to play for the Texas Longhorns before flipping to the Horned Frogs program.

Aaron Wilson is a contributor to Sports Talk 790

TCU v Kansas

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John Metchie praised by DeMeco Ryans

By Aaron Wilson

INDIANAPOLIS -- One of the most inspirational young players in the NFL is Texans wide receiver John Metchie III.

Diagnosed in July with acute promyelocytic leukemia, a curable form of the disease, Metchie missed his entire rookie season after being drafted in the second round.

Metchie has made steady progress in his recovery from leukemia and has a chance to be ready for the Texans’ offseason conditioning program in April.

“I saw Metchie a lot playing at Alabama, a truly talented kid,” Texans coach DeMeco Ryans said Wednesday at the NFL scouting combine. “I’m just proud of the things that he’s been through, such a resilient young man who I’m happy and excited to work with. Just so proud of the process and the things he’s been through, he shows all the mental toughness and grit and all those things, I’m proud of how Metchie has continued to battle.”

In a nod of respect toward the Texans’ rookie wide receiver, wide receiver Jalen Camp delivered a convincing rendition of Metchie’s trademark touchdown celebration during a preseason victory over the New Orleans Saints last August.

When Metchie scored touchdowns at Alabama he would pose in the end zone in a manner reminiscent of the crane kick from the Karate Kid movies.

It was a planned celebration as the Texans’ wide receivers wanted to pay tribute to Metchie during his battle with leukemia. The first wide receiver to score a touchdown would carry out the celebration to honor Metchie, and the moment went to Camp.

“It’s just about everything that he’s going through right now, coming off the injury last season and finally working his way to be able to play with us and then getting diagnosed with the cancer,” Camp said during the season. “I think that we all realized that what he’s going through and what he’s dealing with is kind of bigger than everything that we’re doing. We’re out here playing football and he’s dealing with something way bigger than this, so for us to just do that little celebration was big for us to do.”

“All the the guys in the receiving room decided that the very first touchdown that we had was going to be the crane celebration for Metchie for everything that he’s going through and just pay homage.”

Of course, Metchie was watching. And Metchie, who delivered an emotional video message to the team before the first practice of camp, approved wholeheartedly of what Camp did.

“Yes, sir, it was all good feedback,” Camp said. “We talked after the game, and he was just appreciative, and we’re obviously appreciative of him and everything he’s done these past couple months and the fight that he has going on right now. He didn’t critique it. I don’t think I did it as well as he does it, but I think he was definitely appreciative of it.”

Metchie talked frequently with teammates and coaches and remaining a part of a team that’s been extremely supportive of him.

“He’s a part of us really every day,” receivers coach and passing game coordinator Ben McDaniels said during the season. “We try to support him in every way at all times. He and I are in contact on a regular basis. I’m thinking and praying for him daily. He’s a part of it from afar in some ways, but his positivity and spirit as he attacks something really difficult is really admirable.”

According to medical journals, APL is a “unique subtype of Acute Myeloid Leukemia with cells in the bone marrow that produce blood cells (red cells, white cells, and platelets) that do not develop and function normally. APL begins with one or more acquired changes (mutations) to the DNA of a single blood-forming cell. APL cells have a very specific abnormality that involves chromosomes 15 and 17, leading to the formation of an abnormal fusion gene PML/RARα. This mutated gene causes many of the features of the disease.” A common symptom of APL is bleeding due to reduced numbers of platelets and deficiencies in clotting factors. That symptom can be life-threatening and has to be managed by medical supervision to prevent complications and treat the disease.

A common treatment for APL is a highly successful drug called ATRA (all-trans retinoic acid) to target the chromosomal abnormality. Because of advances in treatment, cure rates of 90% have been reported from medical centers specializing in APL treatment.

“Recently, I was diagnosed with APL (Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia), the most curable form of Leukemia,” Metchie said in a statement before camp. “I am currently receiving great medical care, am in good spirits, and I expect to make a recovery at a later point in time. “As a result of this diagnosis, I will likely not be playing football this season. My main focus will be on my health and recovery. Thank you in advance for your support and well-wishes. I cannot wait to come back stronger than ever. God bless.”

Metchie was expected to have a central role in the Texans’ offense this season. Although sidelined, he’s provided inspiration to his teammates with his courage and attitude.

“It was heartwarming,” Texans cornerback Tremon Smith said. “I felt for him. I just feel bad for Metchie. I wish he was out there playing with us because he would have been a big part of this season this year. I heard it’s the most curable, so I just pray for him.”

Former Texans starting safety Andre Hal was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2018. When his cancer went into remission after undergoing treatment, Hal returned that season to play in eight games and intercepted three passes.

Retired since 2019, Hal provided his perspective on the road ahead for Metchie.

“You have to stay focused on being positive, staying positive, and keeping your family around,” Hal said in a telephone interview. “I would tell him to eat real healthy, stay focused, and stay clear on his mission. Pray a lot. I would definitely talk to him; kind of went through the same thing. I know where he’s at right now. You’ve got to go for it head-first; go at it. He’s going at it right now.”

Aaron Wilson is a contributor to Sports Talk 790.

NFL Combine

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Texans' DeMeco Ryans on Brandin Cooks: 'I would love to work with him'

By Aaron Wilson

INDIANAPOLIS -- As veteran wide receiver Brandin Cooks’ standing trade request remains unresolved, new Texans coach DeMeco Ryans has had a conversation with him.

Cooks doesn’t want to be a part of an ongoing rebuilding process and has reiterated that desire to the team. He has also drawn interest from multiple AFC and NFC teams interested in acquiring him, according to league sources. Further complicating the situation is Cooks’ $18 million fully guaranteed base salary.

“I’ve spoken with Brandin and that process will have to, it will play itself out,” Ryans said Wednesday at the NFL scouting combine. “We’ll do what’s best for our team. I have spoken with him. Great guy. I would love to work with him. I’ve spoken with him.”

No deal is imminent or developing at this time, but sources emphasized there’s plenty of interest in Cooks. He reiterated this offseason his desire to change teams and join a playoff contender after going 11-38-1 with the Texans over the past three seasons since being acquired in a trade from the Los Angeles Rams. With several teams interested and the NFL scouting combine an ideal place to have those type of conversations, there’s optimism that groundwork can be established toward a potential offseason trade.

“I’d say we’re kind of in the team building process here,” Texans general manager Nick Caserio said Tuesday morning. Every player, every individual situation we’ll look at it. Then, ultimately we’ll do what feels best for the team and the organization moving forward.”

Cooks is due $18 million guaranteed in 2023, so a potential deal would likely involve the Texans paying a large chunk of his salary. He caught 57 passes for 699 yards and three touchdowns last season.

Cooks walked onto the Texans’ practice field before the final game of the season, joining his teammates before pausing along his path to shake hands and hug Caserio days before the last game of the season Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts.

It was a friendly exchange between two men whose strong relationship and mutual respect goes back to their shared tenure with the New England Patriots. Cooks was nearly dealt at the NFL deadline, then missed one game against the Philadelphia Eagles for personal reasons stemming from his disappointment and frustration after not being traded to the Dallas Cowboys is expected to be worked on and, in all likelihood, accommodated this offseason.

“I think my agent and Nick and I, we have a good working relationship and, after this game, we’ll be able to discuss what the future looks like,” Cooks told KPRC 2 at the close of the season. “This situation, obviously has got to be a win-win for both sides. I think Nick understands that. We understand that. I think he’s trying to grow something here. As a guy going into Year 10 of my career, I want to be a part of a vision where everyone is on the same page and has a stable vision.

“That’s my hope as a player. As a player, I’ve worked too hard and seen too many different situations here. I know they’re trying to get it right and get it going. I know Nick has a big job in front of him. I think we’ll discuss it after the season. Both sides will have a good understanding.”

Ultimately, no deal could be worked out for Cooks to be traded. It was an extremely complicated situation due to financial reasons with Cooks’ $18 million guaranteed base salary in 2023 along with the Texans’ high asking price in terms of draft capital. The Texans, ideally, wanted a second-round draft pick and other compensation in exchange for Cooks, per league sources, and teams, including the Dallas Cowboys, wanted them to pay a large portion of his salary to make the trade work.

Cooks drew trade inquiries and interest from several teams, including the Los Angeles Rams, New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs and Cowboys, according to league sources.

Acquired by the Texans from the Rams in a 2020 trade for a second-round draft pick, Cooks would tie Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson for the most trades involving an individual player in NFL history if he’s traded for a fourth time. The former New Orleans Saints first-round draft pick form Oregon State was previously traded to the Patriots and then the Rams before joining the Texans.

If the 3-13-1 Texans were built to compete and not facing so much uncertainty-deficiencies at key positions, Cooks acknowledged he would feel differently about the situation and how he fits into that dynamic.

“No doubt, that’s the kind of thing that would excite me,” Cooks said. “If the organization was stable in its approach and a stable operation, not just from a football standpoint, but from the every-day process. I do understand Nick is trying to build that. For me, it’s going to be important to already have that set. Not just for me, but for my family and feeling good about the situation.”

Signed to a two-year, $39.6 million contract extension last year, Cooks caught a career-high 90 passes in 2021 on 134 targets for 1,037 yards and six touchdowns. In his first season with the Texans while playing with three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Deshaun Watson, who was traded to the Cleveland Browns last offseason, Cooks caught 81 passes for 1,150 yards and six touchdowns.

Cooks is one of the fastest receivers in the NFL with a 4.33 time in the 40-yard dash. A former track standout growing up in Stockton, Calif., and in college, Cooks, said he knows he gave the Texans what he had. It’s unfortunate that didn’t translate into a longer tenure or more victories.

“In every way, I gave everything I had for three years,” Cooks said. “Regardless of the situation and a lot of things that was going on, I always worked my tail off and tried to be the best player and the best leader I can be.”

Aaron Wilson is a contributor to Sports Talk 790.

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