Seahawks’ Willson set to crank it back up vs. Panthers

 

Tight end looks ahead, not back, after scary hit

 
 
 
 
Seattle Seahawks tight end Luke Willson is expected to play this Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. It will be his first game back after suffering a concussion Dec. 27.
 

Seattle Seahawks tight end Luke Willson is expected to play this Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. It will be his first game back after suffering a concussion Dec. 27.

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RENTON, Wash. — Luke Willson hasn’t seen Concussion, the movie released by Sony Pictures on Christmas Day that casts light on one of the National Football League’s darkest secrets.

He’s been too busy recovering from the first concussion of his football career on Dec. 27. The Seattle Seahawks’ third-year tight end from LaSalle, Ont., was clobbered by cornerback Trumaine Johnson of the St. Louis Rams and left the game after playing only 18 snaps. Johnson drew a flag for unnecessary roughness and a wobbly Willson had to be helped to the bench, clearly concussed.

“I haven’t seen the hit (on video),” Willson admitted before a practice this week in preparation for Sunday’s NFC divisional playoff against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. (10:05 a.m. Pacific time). “He (Johnson) was penalized. I don’t have much more to say about it than that. I don’t think he was intentionally trying to put me out. Hopefully, it’s the first and only concussion of my career. A lot of people have said that’s remarkable in itself. I don’t know. All I know is I’ve never experienced anything like I’ve had to deal with the past couple of weeks before. I definitely know a lot more about concussions and things to stay away from now.”

After missing the Seahawks’ regular-season finale against the Arizona Cardinals on Jan. 3 and last Sunday’s improbable 10-9 victory over the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC wild-card playoff game, Willson has been cleared to play Sunday — and the Seahawks need him. With Jimmy Graham gone for the season with a torn patellar tendon, Seattle has been relying on Cooper Helfet and Chase Coffman, slotted third and fourth respectively on the depth chart at tight end.

“He (Willson) does so many things for us that go unseen,” Seahawks offensive co-ordinator Darrell Bevell said. “He makes big plays in the passing game. He does a nice job for us in protection, does a nice job for us in the run game. He’s a starter for a reason.”

Carolina’s offence relies heavily on game-breaking tight end Greg Olsen, who has been on the receiving end of 77 passes from quarterback Cam Newton, 33 more than any other Panthers receiver.

“He’s (Olsen) a magnificent target,” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said. “He can do everything. They know it. They use him all over the field, in crucial situations. He’s as good as the best guys who play.”

Olsen scored the winning touchdown with 26 seconds left Oct. 18, when the Panthers defeated the Seahawks 27-23 at CenturyLink Field, the only blemish in six games in which Seattle has played Carolina under Carroll’s watch. In last year’s NFC divisional playoff, Russell Wilson threw for three touchdowns, including a 25-yard strike to Willson in the fourth quarter that gave the Seahawks a 24-10 lead. Seattle prevailed 31-17.

“Any time you score in the playoffs, it’s definitely memorable,” Willson said. “But it means nothing now. Hopefully I can get another one on Sunday.”

mbeamish@vancouversun.com

Twitter.com/sixbeamers

 
 
 
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Seattle Seahawks tight end Luke Willson is expected to play this Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. It will be his first game back after suffering a concussion Dec. 27.
 

Seattle Seahawks tight end Luke Willson is expected to play this Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. It will be his first game back after suffering a concussion Dec. 27.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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