GLENDALE—Will Dissly couldn't avoid thinking about what happened the last time he played on this field.
After a promising start to his rookie season, tight end Will Dissly tore his patellar tendon—a very serious knee injury—in a Week 4 game at Arizona. Dissly attacked his rehab and made it back for the start of the 2019 season, and his play in the first three games have shown he's fully recovered from the injury. Even so, being back on this field brought back some unpleasant memories.
But in pregame warmups, Dissly ran a route just like the one that led to his season-ending injury, caught the pass from Russell Wilson, and ran down the sideline and away from any lingering injury demons.
"It did (go through my mind), yeah, for sure," Dissly said. "But in warmups, I went and caught that same fly route, and I turned up (the sideline) and ran, and I said, 'Hey, my knee works.' From that point on, I put it behind me and I was ready to play the game."
And Dissly didn't just play in the game and get through it healthy, he came through with another big performance, catching a career-high seven passes for 57 yards and a touchdown. That 9-yard touchdown grab was Dissly's fourth this season, and his sixth in eight career games, the most by a tight end through his first eight games since Pittsburgh's Heath Miller had six in his first seven games in 2005.
"Will had a career-high seven catches and just continues to be a really, really dependable football player," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "I love the way he's playing. He and Russ are hooking up at crucial times, tough catches. He's gotten hammered a few times on tackles and bounced right back up. He's a tremendous Seahawk. He just does everything so beautifully. It's great to have him."
Coming back for the start of the season, let alone playing this well, was far from a given for Dissly. Patellar tendon injuries can take a long time to recover form, and some players never make it back to the level they were playing at before the injury. But between the work he put in with Seattle's athletic trainers, as well as back home in Montana during the offseason, Dissly was able to surpass every recovery benchmark.
"You don't know with that one because it's a big, big injury in the end," Carroll said. "We had hoped that he would make it back by this season. That's what we were shooting for. He made it back before that, but he's better right now than he's ever been. I think because the whole process of going through and making sure he was ready to play and all that. They did a perfect job."
Said Dissly, "You're just grateful when those opportunities happen. I'm just thankful to be playing football again. I worked tremendously hard, and I didn't do it alone; my family had my back the whole way though. So I never lacked in confidence, and I think that comes from teammates, they build me up every week. We're all trying to build each other up and play for each other, so I'm just out there laying it on the line for them."
And as impressive as Dissly's return from injury has been, it's not just that he made it back, it's that he continues to prove himself to be a huge part of Seattle's offense. Drafted primarily for his blocking ability, Dissly has shown himself to be a more well-rounded tight end than even the Seahawks could have hoped for, making himself a big part of the passing game while still doing the work expected of him as a blocker.
"It was pretty cool just seeing him make some plays today," Wilson said. "He's a special guy, special player. He just won the Ed Block Courage Award, so that was pretty cool to see. He's earned everything. He's worked for everything and he's a tremendous guy, tremendous player, tremendous teammate and that was big, so I was happy for him for sure."