RENTON, Wash. (AP) — Luke Willson was about to get on a flight Tuesday for another tryout and another shot at landing an NFL job.
He was at the San Francisco airport waiting to board when he got word from his agent that his destination was changing.
"So I walked over two terminals and flew to Seattle instead," Willson said Wednesday.
The Seahawks brought the popular tight end back because of a need at the position. Seattle traded tight end Nick Vannett to Pittsburgh in exchange for a fifth-round pick and the Seahawks didn't feel they had a player on their practice squad who could do what they needed with Vannett gone.
Willson is essentially a plug-and-play replacement and is likely to get immediate action Sunday against Arizona as one of only two tight ends on Seattle's roster.
While he spent last year in Detroit, Willson spent his first five seasons with the Seahawks. He understands the system, the environment and has a history of playing with a number of the Seahawks players.
"How fortunate could we be to get a guy that we love and knows our program," coach Pete Carroll said. "Just a lifeblood, energy guy in the program as well and a really good ball player. We made a switch. We got a chance to get Luke back in it. We're fortunate there."
Willson hasn't posted gaudy numbers in his career. His career high in catches is 22 back in 2014 and he had four TD receptions in the 2017 season, his last with the Seahawks. A year ago in his only season with Detroit, Willson had 13 catches for 87 yards in 14 games.
But his personality has resonated throughout Seattle's locker room in the past, which makes bringing him back an easy move for the Seahawks. The weeks were long for Willson after he was cut by Oakland at the end of training camp and he went through a handful of tryouts.
"I didn't really know what to believe. Not every team operates the same way or is looking for the same stuff," Willson said. "My goal was to stay in shape and when I get the call and sign that papers that will be it. I kind of hoped maybe I would be back here."
Willson was in the spotlight during training camp. HBO's "Hard Knocks" made Willson one of its featured players during the month it followed the Raiders. The final episode showed Willson walking into the office of Raiders general manager Mike Mayock and being cut for the first time in his career.
"I was a little more mentally prepared," Willson said. "It wasn't a complete shock but it was strange, man, when you go from six years of being kind of a lock on those days and I got a new appreciation for a lot of those guys who are kind of sitting and waiting to see if their phones are going to ring. It was definitely not an enjoyable time."
NOTES: Carroll said all signs are pointing toward RB Rashaad Penny (hamstring), LT Duane Brown (biceps) and Bradley McDougald (ankle) being able to play Sunday at Arizona, although Penny and Brown sat out Wednesday's practice. Penny missed last Sunday against New Orleans and could be in line for a bigger role with the fumble problems of starter Chris Carson. ... FS Tedric Thompson (hamstring) also returned to practice Wednesday. Thompson missed the past two games.
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL