Willson becoming valued contributor for Seahawks

When Anthony McCoy was lost for the season in May after tearing

an Achilles, the Seattle Seahawks were left with several questions

at the tight end position.

While veteran Zach Miller was set as the starter, Seattle needed

to find a complement to fill out their offensive attack.

Fifth-round pick Luke Willson stepped up.

Willson has played in every game for Seattle this season and

scored his first touchdown two weeks ago against the San Francisco

49ers. He has become a more trusted option for quarterback Russell

Wilson as the season has progressed and has become a more competent

blocker.

”Luke can play the whole position,” coach Pete Carroll said.

”I mean he’s been a fantastic draft pick for us, an incredible

draft pick for us. I mean he could play so early and contribute in

such a variety of ways, and he’s really just getting started.”

McCoy caught 18 passes for 291 yards and three touchdowns last

season. He had improved as a run blocker and Seattle felt

comfortable lining up in the backfield, split out wide or as an

inline blocker. With McCoy injured, Willson had some big shoes to

fill and not much time to get up to speed.

”I was still so new and so involved with trying to learn the

offense that I really didn’t have too many thoughts where I would

be down the road. It was pretty overwhelming the amount of

information you needed to take in,” Willson said.

He tried to keep his head down and focused on what was in front

of him instead of looking at the big picture of the role he needed

to fill.

”It was like `I’m going to try and worry about the next play.

Make sure I know what I’m doing,”’ Willson said.

With Miller sidelined for much of the preseason due to injury,

Willson and second-year player Sean McGrath had ample opportunity

to impress the coaching staff. The mark left by Willson’s play led

Seattle to keep just two tight ends during final cutdowns in

August.

”You didn’t really know what you had,” offensive coordinator

Darrell Bevell said. ”We drafted him. We liked what we saw but you

had to see how he was going to fit in protection wise, how he was

going to fit in run blocking wise, how he was going to fit in

catching the ball.

”He’s been a huge part of what we do. That second tight end is

really a big position for us, and he’s really done a nice

job.”

Willson said he felt things began to slow down after the first

month of the season and have continued to improve throughout the

year. With 18 NFL games under his belt, including preseason,

Willson feels he’s better at recognizing what opposing defenses are

doing and what to expect to come his way.

Willson is just another contributor found in the latter stages

of the draft paying big dividends for the Seahawks. Willson caught

just nine passes during his senior season at Rice University. He

was overshadowed by more highly touted teammate Vance McDonald, who

was selected in the second round by the 49ers. But the Seahawks

felt Willson’s speed was a valuable asset and would be available

later in the draft.

”We saw the talent,” Carroll said. ”We saw the range of

ability but it was really John Schneider’s knack of understanding

where he would get drafted that made him so valuable to us. At that

spot that’s as good a pick that you could make.”

Willson posted multiple catches in consecutive games for the

first time this season the last two weeks For the year, Willson has

caught 18 passes for 265 yards and one touchdown.

”I’m thrilled to be here and it’s kind of exciting to be able

to contribute,” Willson said.

Notes: Seattle signed WR Bryan Walters from their practice squad

to fill the roster spot vacated by the suspension of CB Brandon

Browner. The team signed DT Michael Brooks to fill Walters’ spot on

the practice squad. … RB Robert Turbin (groin), G J.R. Sweezy

(concussion) and CB Jeremy Lane (ankle) were new additions to

Seattle’s injury report. Sweezy and Lane did not practice. Turbin

was limited.