Not many rookies get to experience the highest of highs and the lowest of lows in their first NFL season. Even fewer experience such turbulence over the course of just four games.
The Seattle Seahawks drafted Will Dissly in the fourth round (120th overall) in the 2018 NFL Draft. He went on to come out of the gates as hot as any other first year player last September. The tight end racked up 105 yards and a touchdown on three receptions in his NFL debut against the Denver Broncos. Dissly scored the following week as well against the Chicago Bears.
His blazing start came to an abrupt and gruesome halt after suffering a torn patella tendon in Week 4 against the Arizona Cardinals – an injury widely regarded as one of the most challenging for a football player to return from.
Now 10 months removed, Dissly is nearing the completion of his arduous rehab process.
“I’m not going to lie to you, it was tough,” Dissly said on Friday. “Thankfully, I have a tremendous amount of support from my family, the Seahawks organization, the athletic training (staff), those guys are unbelievable. It was a real team effort to get me back to this point. I’m just excited moving forward. Things are looking up.”
The Seahawks are currently easing the second-year tight end back into the mix through two training camp practices. Dissly is going through walkthroughs and individual drills, but he hasn’t been cleared yet for 7-on-7s or full-team work.
“You know, right know we are taking it slow,” Dissly said. “The main priority is the longevity on my knee and the season. We are going to take it slow. I feel really good. I honestly feel like I’m in better shape now than entering last season, so I’m excited about that. We’ll just keep grinding and keep going.”
Dissly spent the offseason program getting mental reps from the sideline, something that’s commonplace for injured players. But the tight end found himself gravitating towards the quarterbacks. He observed the game from their perspective and learned different checks and progressions the quarterbacks go through on a play-to-play basis.
He then joined Russell Wilson and other Seahawks pass catchers in San Diego to get in some extra work before camp. Wilson has been impressed by Dissly’s recovery that appears to be ahead of schedule.
“He’s the high character level player that you want on your team,” Wilson said. “He’s the ultimate competitor. He’s the definition of what a Seahawk should look like, in terms of his passion for the game, his understanding of the game, his love for the other players, how he takes care of his business. It’s what we want to be about. He’s the championship kind of a player. We are glad that he’s on our team."
Dissly wouldn’t rule out a Week 1 return, but he didn’t commit to his availability for the season opener, either. He knows he’s in the long game. The Seahawks have playoff aspirations, and Dissly is more concerned about January football than games in September. Still, a glistening Lake Washington to one side of the VMAC and a sea of fans on the other, Dissly’s patience is certainly being tested.
“I mean, you can’t beat this place. You have the sun shining, the 12s out here screaming. I’m just really blessed, fortunate to be playing this game. It’s amazing to be back out here with my guys. I’m excited for this year for sure.”