When the Seahawks took the field Monday wearing pads for the first time in training camp, tight end Will Dissly was understandably more excited to sweat through another football practice than most of his teammates probably were.
"It was like Christmas morning," the third-year tight end out of the University of Washington said. "I was excited to go hit somebody again…
Dissly added that "There was a bit of celebration in my mind… It's exciting to get back to doing the thing I love."
A Monday afternoon practice in August had so much meaning to Dissly not so much because of that day's work in and of itself, but because of everything that went into getting to that point. After getting off to such a promising start in 2018, Dissly's rookie season was cut short only four games into the season due to a ruptured patellar tendon. Dissly made it back from that very serious knee injury to start off 2019 as one of the NFL's most productive tight ends, catching 23 passes for 262 yards and four touchdowns through five games before he ruptured his Achilles tendon in Seattle's sixth game.
Either of those injuries might represent the most significant setback a professional athlete could face in a long career; Dissly had to deal with two devastating injuries in a 13-month span. And for as positive as Dissly is—a trait that helped carry him through two long rehab processes—he admits there were dark moments early on after the second injury.
"I was on such a high, right? We had done a great job with my knee and worked tremendously hard and I was super prepared, and the team was winning, we're having success, and then to go down again, kind of a fluke deal, it was kind of crushing," Dissly said "I don't want to say that lightly, there was a good week or so where I was in a bad place mentally."
But while Dissly was understandably down after seeing a second promising season cut short in as many years, he also was able to turn to family and friends back home in Montana, as well as his teammates, to pick him back up. And just as importantly as people having his back in that kind of situation, he was able to talk openly and honestly about what he was feeling.
"That was the beauty of it, I was able to talk about it," he said. "If you're in a bad place, you should be able to talk about with your friends and family and lean on those to kind of bring you up. You're isolated a lot when you get hurt. You're removed from your team and environment that you're so used to, you're not allowed to exercise to kind of stress relief, and it's hard emotionally. But you know that's one thing, if you're able to talk about and work through those things with those close around you, it helps a ton."
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has repeatedly praised the rehab work that Dissly did to get back for the start of training camp, and on Tuesday he wryly noted, "Will is really good at rehabbing" before again praising the way Dissly has twice bounced back from serious injury.
"He's had two big challenges back to back," Carroll said. "… Nine straight months, never missed anything, never late for anything has led him to the opportunity where he's back on field already. We're in pads and he's in there in the first couple of plays coming off the football. He's a remarkable person in the character that drives the guy to overcome those kinds of obstacles. Sometimes it breaks guys down, they can't find that motivation, but Will has been able to do that. He's a wonderful player, he can do everything—he blocks, catches the football, runs well after the catch, he's really smart. He's a great team guy. He's a terrific part of our team so it's great to have him back. I know he's thrilled that he's back out here, but he's got something to prove. He wants to stay out here, so he's going to do everything to get that done."
Photos from the 6th practice of Seahawks 2020 Training Camp, held on Tuesday, August 18 at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center. Seahawks Training Camp is presented by Safeway.