HOUSTON (CBS HOUSTON) — Texans defensive end Devon Still finally has a luxury most of his fellow teammates might take for granted.
With Training Camp in full swing, the new Texans lineman can finally just focus on his job.
His daughter, Leah, officially beat cancer — one that once gave her a “50-50 chance to live” — earlier this year after a two-year battle with stage 4 neuroblastoma.
Still also got married in May, with the five-year-old Leah stealing the spotlight on the dance floor during the reception. It was a welcome sight after all of her health issues.
That stability in his life has freed Still up to worry about blocking schemes more than trips to the hospital after missing the 2015 season.
“I have no weight on my shoulders now,” Still said with a smile. “For the past two years, I had to worry about my daughter. Right now, I can focus all on football.”
It’s a good time for Still to be locked in on the field, since the Texans potentially have an open spot along the defensive line.
The former Penn State star has that starting job in his sights.
“The opportunity is huge for that right-end position,” Still said. “I’m going to try and give myself the best opportunity to get it.”
His daughter’s battle with cancer and the accompanying #LeahStrong push often made Still more of a sympathetic figure than a football player since the diagnosis in 2014.
But Still said he’s not in Houston to be a feel-good story, and he’s been surprised by how well he’s responded to the heat and long days in Training Camp.
“I thought I was going to feel it, but I honestly don’t,” Still said. “I worked hard in the offseason managing with my daughter being in the hospital with my workout. I don’t feel any rust, which is nice.
“When you have something taken away from you that you’ve worked so hard for, when you get it back, you don’t take anything for granted. You earn that keep.”