CINCINNATI (AP) — Devon Still was trim and upbeat when he arrived for the start of the Cincinnati Bengals training camp. Good news about his 5-year-old daughter put him in the right frame of mind.
Leah Still’s latest scan found no trace of the cancer that she’s been fighting for more than a year. Still said on Thursday that she has to get treatments to strengthen her immune system, but the worst of it should be behind her.
They had an emotional goodbye when he headed to Cincinnati to try to earn a spot in the Bengals’ line rotation.
“It was emotional and I didn’t want to show that part because we both make ugly faces when we cry, but it was definitely an emotional part,” Still said, before the team’s meeting. “But she understands what I have to go out here and do, I understand what I have to go out here and do.”
Leah Still was diagnosed with cancer 14 months ago and has undergone surgery and bouts of chemotherapy. Her most recent scans came back negative, an indication the treatment has worked. She has to get treatment for several weeks to help her immune system recover from the effects of the chemotherapy.
Still is entering his fourth season. Back problems and the concerns about his daughter, who has been treated on the East Coast, weighed on him last season. His back is healed, and he lost 27 pounds as he got in shape in the offseason. He’s on a one-year contract, so he’s running out of time to show the Bengals he can be an integral part of the defensive line.
“My daughter’s battle with cancer has given me a stronger ‘why’ than I’ve ever had in my life,” Still said. “I’m just looking forward to going out there and showing the coaches what I’m about. I spent last year showing everybody the type of father I was and the type of person I was, and now it’s time to show everybody what type of football player I am.”
Still played in a dozen games last season and had 19 tackles without a sack. He’s going to have to do much better to keep a spot on the line.
His daughter helped him get the weight down by insisting that he stick to his diet and scolding him if he tries to eat some of her fruit snacks. She also told him when they parted on Wednesday that he needs to go win a role on the Bengals.
Still said one of the worst parts of the past few months was waiting to get back the results of the latest scans, which would tell whether the treatments were working. The latest scan results came back earlier this week.
“You sit at the draft and you wait to get picked, and you’re all nervous wondering what the results are going to be,” said Still, who was taken in the second round. “It’s 10 times worse than that because you know we were traveling down a good path for so long, and for that day to come right before I had to come out here for training camp is hard.
“It’s hard for any parent that’s dealing with cancer because that can change your whole world right back around from the result that you get. But luckily we were given positive results.”
Notes: The Bengals announced that LB Rey Maualuga will miss the first practice of training camp on Friday with a non-football injury. … WR Greg Little signed a deal on Thursday. The former Browns star signed with Cincinnati last season when injuries depleted the receiving group. He played in six games and had only six catches for 69 yards. He didn’t catch a pass during a first-round playoff loss at Indianapolis. … WR Cobi Hamilton was waived. The sixth-round pick in 2013 spent most of the past two seasons on the practice squad. … They also signed rookie receiver Desmond Lawrence, a free agent from North Carolina A&T. He signed with the Lions and was released in May.