Will Dissly was maybe an hour into his next, lonely grind of endless rehabilitation days into weeks into months.
Yet all the Seahawks’ tight end wanted to talk to his coach about in the locker room in Cleveland after his apparently second season-ending injury in as many NFL seasons was his enthusiasm for returning again next year.
“His attitude was incredible,” Pete Carroll said Monday, shrugging as if to say “that’s just Will Dissly.”
Impressing always-sunny Pete Carroll with positive vibes? That’s saying something.
That’s the relentlessness Dissly now needs. Again.
Sunday in Ohio, during the first half of Seattle’s 32-28 victory over the Browns, the wowing former University of Washington defensive lineman and Seahawks touchdown maker his first two, abbreviated seasons with them suffered a non-contact Achilles injury. The team’s medical staff is still waiting to confirm a rupture of the tendon, but that is the expectation—as is Dissly missing the rest of this season.
Carroll said Dissly will miss the rest of the year, barring something “miraculous.”
“He’s talking about 2020 already, and ‘You can count on me’ and ‘I can’t wait to get working,’” Carroll said, a day after he called it “a devastating injury.”
“I mean, just an amazing attitude. It was the attitude that took him through the past rehab. And—you hate to get good at something like that—but he’s prepared to take this on. And he’ll do a fantastic job, and he will beat all the time frames that he’s faced with, and will do a great job returning.”
Dissly is almost assuredly headed onto injured reserve as the Seahawks’ leader with four touchdown catches. He has six TDs in 10 career games, remarkable for any second-year NFL player but extraordinary for a defensive tackle at UW until a couple years ago.
Early in the second quarter Sunday, on a third down, Dissly was running a pass route into the end zone looking over his inside shoulder. Russell Wilson’s throw under pressure sailed outside Dissly. As the big tight end attempted to turn his body and shoulders, his left leg and foot gave out under him. He crumpled to the natural grass painted brown and orange in the end zone as Wilson’s pass fell incomplete well wide of him. No Browns player contacted him or was near him went he went down.
Team doctor Ed Khalfayan and trainers rushed to Dissly, who stayed down in the end zone for a moment or two. Two assistants helped him to the sideline while he limped, barely putting weight on his left leg. After a couple minutes of observation by Khalfayan inside a tent behind Seattle’s bench, Dissly got into the passenger seat of a motorized cart and was driven from the field as the Seahawks’ drive ended with a field goal instead of a touchdown.
As he was driven away Dissly appeared to raise his hand to some Seahawks fans seated near the tunnel leading from the field to his team’s locker room.
“That was tough today. Tough on Will. Tough on the team. Tough on me,” Wilson said. “I’ve developed such a great relationship with Will. I just want him to keep the faith.”
Dissly had his standout rookie season end after four games in 2018 because of ruptured patellar tendon in his right knee. He went on injured reserve and missed the rest of last season.
He returned to full go in August—and resumed his unnaturally strong trust with quarterback Russell Wilson for so early in his career. Dissly had six touchdown catches in nine career games entering Sunday. Dissly’s four TDs entering the Browns game led all Seahawks receivers.
“Will has done everything he can. He’s been an unbelievable Seahawk,” Carroll said. “Every play he’s been if for us, last year and this year, he’s been just top-flight, a first-class competitor in all ways.
“It’s just unfortunate that he’s going to have to miss the season here—if the tests come through like we think they are.”
The Seahawks have Luke Willson, re-signed last month, and Jacob Hollister at tight end. They promoted Hollister, acquired in a trade with New England this spring, from their practice squad on Friday. He made his Seattle debut in Cleveland playing 29 of the offense’s 83 plays.
Veteran Ed Dickson, Seattle’s starting tight end in 2018, is eligible to come off injured reserve and play in two weeks. He had knee surgery in August. Carroll said Dickson is progressing toward a return by the team doesn’t know for sure yet if Dickson will be ready to play right away or need more of the two-week window the team has to determine if one of its two IR players designated to return is ready to do so. If not, he goes on IR for the rest of the season.
“He’s working really hard, doing everything. He’s running, lifting,” Carroll said. “All that he’s allowed to do.
“What will be telling is, when he can finally come back on the field (in two weeks) can he do the football moves and the football regimen and respond and be OK with that. He’s working to get ready right now.
“We are very fortunate to have a guy like that come back to us, without too much of a space in there, you know, without Will.”
In the meantime, expect the Seahawks (5-1) to do more three- and four-wide-receiver formations including Sunday in the home game against AFC North-leading Baltimore (4-2).
And expect Seattle to shop for a new tight end.
Asked if the Seahawks are set with what they have a tight end for the next two weeks until Dickson could return, Carroll said: “Well, we are always working at it.”