Texans safety Andre Hal returns to practice, activated four months after cancer diagnosis

In June, 26-year-old Texans safety Andre Hal was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, which placed more than just his football future in jeopardy. But a little more than four months after the diagnosis, Hal is ready to resume playing football. 

Hal returned to practice on Wednesday. Then on Saturday, the Texans activated him off the Reserve/Non-Football Illness list, which means he's eligible to play against the Jaguars on Sunday. 

"I knew I was going to play [again]," Hal said Wednesday, per ESPN. "I just didn't know when. That's why I never stopped coming. I never stopped coming to practice, I never stopped working out. I just had a feeling that I was going to play again."

In September, it was announced that Hal's cancer was in remission. To get to that point, Hal "tried a treatment plan involving a drug being administered via IV that his doctor told him would give him a good prognosis to beat the disease," according to ESPN's Sarah Barshop, who also reported that Hal elected to forgo chemotherapy because he wanted a chance to return to the field this season.

He'll now get that chance.

"He worked very hard," Texans coach Bill O'Brien said Wednesday, per ESPN. "Did a really good job. He was in all the meetings, let alone the weight room work and the field work. He really stayed on top of the Xs and Os.

"He's that type of guy. He's a great teammate. He's a tremendous guy."

The Texans could use him back on the field. After joining the team as a seventh-round pick in 2014, Hal developed into a starter during his second season, starting 38 games from 2015-17. During his career, he's racked up nine interceptions, 26 passes defended, and 122 solo tackles. It was enough for him to earn a three-year, $15 million contract extension on the eve of last season.

So far this season, the Texans' defense -- after getting J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus back from injury -- ranks eighth in DVOA, ninth in yards allowed per game, and 11th in points allowed per game. After starting 0-3, the Texans have embarked upon an unlikely three-game winning streak that has them in a position to challenge for a playoff spot in an up-for-grabs AFC South. 

The Texans' safety group looks way different since the last time Hal started for them. In free agency, they signed Tyrann Mathieu and then they drafted Justin Reid in the third round. Adding Hal to that group, even if he's nothing more than a rotation player, should still provide a lift to their playoff chances.

CBS Sports Writer

Sean Wagner-McGough joined CBS Sports in 2015 after graduating from UC Berkeley. A native of Seattle, Sean now resides in the Bay Area. He spends his spare time defending Jay Cutler on Twitter. Full Bio

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