First-year Seahawks tight end Ed Dickson played for the Carolina Panthers from 2014 to 2017, developing a begrudging respect for a frequent opponent — Seattle — along the way. Now he'll return to Carolina hoping to make an impact for the opposite team.
Ed Dickson was plenty familiar with the Seahawks before he signed with Seattle as a free agent this offseason.
In his four seasons with Carolina from 2014 to 2017, the Panthers and Seahawks met in the regular season or playoffs a whopping five times, with Seattle owning a 3-2 record in the recent rivalry. Dickson caught eight passes for 92 yards in those match ups.
He also developed a begrudging appreciation for his opponent along the way.
“We had some battles here,” Dickson said on Tuesday from the Seahawks’ locker room. “One thing I can say about Carolina and the Seahawks for the time that I played there is we respected the Seahawks, not just because of their defense. We knew that they were a threat. We gave them all the necessary respect that they needed.
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“We knew it was going to come down to one play, or the little things. So we game-planned for that game for weeks on end. Even when we were playing other opponents, we would look at a little bit of the Seahawks tape, because we respected the Seahawks.”
It should come as no surprise, then, that the 31-year-old tight end ultimately took his talents to Seattle. And now, appropriately enough, he gets to play with the Seahawks on the road at Carolina on Sunday morning.
“Going back to Carolina, that’s going to be a little bittersweet, you know?” Dickson said. “Going back, there’s some familiar faces. There’s going to be some hugs and smiles and everything like that. But once the ball I snapped, I’m a Seahawk now. So I’m going (there) to win.”
One Panther likely to be on the receiving end of a Dickson smile and hug is longtime teammate and fellow right end Greg Olsen, who has registered 663 catches, 7,823 yards and 57 touchdowns in his 12-year NFL career.
Dickson was on hand for 445 of those catches.
But he’s hoping Olsen won’t add to that total on Sunday.
“I didn’t really say that much. I just learned from the things that he did,” Dickson said of his four seasons alongside Olsen. “I couldn’t say anything better about being there with him, being underneath his wing and (forming) that 1-2 punch. I did a lot of the things that he didn’t do, but we complemented each other and it helped the (tight ends) room out, it helped the team out and it helped us get to a goal, which was winning games and getting to the Super Bowl.
“I have a lot of respect for him and I thank him for what he did for me and my career. Moving on from there, I’ve still got respect for him, but I’m trying to beat him.”
Since Dickson was activated from the non-football injury list in late October, the Seahawks have won two games, and their veteran tight end has caught a touchdown pass in both of them. Most recently, he hauled in the 15-yard go-ahead touchdown in last week’s 27-24 win over the Green Bay Packers.
Dickson only has four catches in four games, but they’ve gone for an average of 23.3 yards.
When the 6-foot-4, 250-pound veteran touches the football, the Seahawks move the sticks.
“I don’t press it,” Dickson said. “I just take advantage of the opportunities that I’m given and the opportunities that knock. We’re running the ball pretty well with George (Fant) in there. Nick (Vannett’s) playing very well. Whatever role it is, I’m going to take that role and run with it. I’m going to do the best job I can.
“I’m a veteran player. Hopefully that role will grow into something bigger, but it’s not about myself. It’s about the team.”
Added Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll: “We need to just continue to get him involved in and let him be a part of it. Nick’s (Vannett) playing good football too, but Ed looks like he’s really got an opportunity to help us.”
To do that, Dickson may need more opportunities. The Oregon alum has been largely overshadowed by standout tight end teammates throughout his career, whether it was Todd Heap in Baltimore or Olsen in Carolina. To compensate, he transformed himself into a bruising blocker. But he settled on Seattle, in part, to prove himself as a complete tight end.
He can continue to do that against a familiar foe on Sunday.
The guy delivering the football will certainly help in that regard.
“That’s one of the main reasons I came here, to play with a quarterback like Russell (Wilson),” Dickson said after catching the game-winning touchdown against Green Bay. “His expertise, the way he’s passionate about this club and this game, even my play — I’ll go to war with that guy.
“Just to see some of it paying off, it’s kind of gratifying, so to say. We’re not done yet.”