ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) _ Navy's football team wore the initials of Damon Myers, a teammate stricken with cancer, on their helmets during the season finale against Army last year.

Next month, Myers plans to strap on his own helmet and rejoin his friends in a triumphant return to the football field.

Myers played against Kent in Navy's last 1997 home game. Four days later he was diagnosed with lymphoma, cancer of the lymph nodes, but he's now practicing with the Midshipmen as a backup wide receiver.

``When you've gone through what he has, you have to come back slowly. The chances of him being in uniform for (the Sept. 10 opener against) Wake Forest are slim, but he should be there the next week against Kent,'' coach Charlie Weatherbie said.

Myers had more than three months of treatment at Bethesda Naval Hospital before being released March 6. He was back at the Academy two weeks later and has been working there ever since.

Myers lost 40 pounds from his playing weight of 215 while hospitalized, but has regained the weight and is ready to play.

``I go back for tests once a month, and everything is still good,'' he said. ``It's been a rough comeback, but its going pretty well. The coaches have been really encouraging. I wouldn't want to stay out there if I was hurting the team, but they've never suggested anything like that.''

To the contrary, his coaches are delighted to have him back.

``This year we'll be wearing `JM' on our helmets,'' said Weatherbie, a tribute to Jason McCray, a projected defensive starter who died playing basketball over the summer.