-- ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen, who was diagnosed with Stage IV throat cancer earlier this year, said Wednesday that he doesn't have a specific date he'll return to work, but he plans to be part of the network's NFL coverage as the season gets underway.
"I received very encouraging news last week from my oncologist team of doctors at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center that now enables me to completely focus on recovery rather than treatment," Mortensen said in a statement released by ESPN. "The Stage IV throat [oropharyngel] cancer that was diagnosed in early January and treated with intensive chemotherapy and radiation has been virtually reduced to zero detection of the disease through the latest scans and exams.
"I do have scheduled exams and scans during the next three months to monitor my status but my oncologists have directed me to recover and rehab from the treatments that have resulted in lengthy hospitalization, significant weight loss, strength, endurance and related health issues. I am following instructions to overcome these challenges.
"My return-to-work status has variables with no definitive target date but I anticipate being able to participate in NFL coverage on a limited basis as the 2016 season gets underway."
Mortensen took a leave of absence from ESPN in January and missed the Super Bowl.
"It has been a long and difficult road for Mort since he was diagnosed, so hearing his positive news is very encouraging," ESPN senior coordinating producer Seth Markman said. "As we have said all along, when Mort is able to return, his chair on our set will be waiting. He is a beloved member of our ESPN team, and we have really missed him these past few months."
Mortensen, who has been with ESPN since 1991, won the prestigious Dick McCann Award at this year's Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremonies.
"My wife Micki and I want to express our deepest gratitude and humility from the outpouring of love we have received from family, friends, colleagues, the NFL community and beyond, as well as ESPN's unwavering support. Our hope remains rooted in our deep faith in God and we continue to be grateful to our caring team at M.D. Anderson and my local personal physicians.
"We also want to encourage everyone to support various cancer causes such as the V Foundation -- we can testify that these specific organizations are justifiably necessary and righteous to families who encounter this insidious disease."