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Cardinals’ Derrick Coleman embraces role with new team

New Cardinals fullback Derrick Coleman has never shied from a challenge his whole life.

As the first legally-deaf NFL offensive player, Coleman has cut out a nice career as a fullback and in special teams for the Seattle Seahawks and Atlanta Falcons.

“As the fullback you have to be a leading guy, you have to set the tone for the running back,” Coleman said on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Doug & Wolf. “You want to be strong, fast and you want to be physical. People feed off of that, you go out and lay a linebacker out of you just fit the right way running backs are confident enough to know they can run right behind him and go for 100 yards or a touchdown.”

The Cardinals are re-introducing the fullback position to their offense under first-year head coach Steve Wilks and offensive coordinator Mike McCoy.

Coleman won a Super Bowl during his time with the Seahawks, and has had success in special teams and in run-blocking.

The Cardinals expect him to fill in these roles seamlessly.

His deafness hasn’t stopped him from being a productive player in the NFL as well as a succesful college career as a running back at UCLA.

“It really hasn’t been a huge challenge, because that is what I do day in and day out in my life. Sometimes I do have to work twice as hard, sometimes I have to make accommodations,” Coleman said. “When the quarterback changes plays when everyone is already out, he just knows that I can read lips so just turn around one more time and tell me.”

Coleman’s success in football has been a big inspiration to members of the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, and he’s proud to be a member of the community and offer encouragement.

“I always tell the hard-of-hearing and deaf community just go there and live your life. Be the best you can possibly be. When I was growing up, I always thought I had to be a part of society and do what society told me to do, what I learned was that there’s only one Derrick Coleman Jr.,” Coleman said. “And I just need to go out there and do the best I can possibly do. There’s going to be times when I mess up, and there’s going to be times when I do something great.”