If he was going to make the team, he needed the quarterback to have his back. He couldn't afford to confuse any play calls, audibles or verbiage. He was not going to give Carroll an excuse to cut him. He sat next to Wilson in team meetings and in the locker room. He told Wilson his story. The quarterback was all in.
"I just always engage, always know that he's there," Wilson says. "And I kinda love it. You get to make sure that you're talking to him and he understands the play, he understands the snap count."
In the 2013 preseason opener against San Diego, Coleman caught a touchdown pass. He made no glaring errors during the entire exhibition season, and Carroll rewarded him with the starting fullback job on opening day. "He's come to us in a big way," the coach says.
In October, he injured a hamstring, and lost his starting job to Michael Robinson. But he kept tagging along behind Wilson. Then, during a home Monday night game against the Saints, in arguably the loudest stadium in the league, he entered the game with his ears humming. The Seahawks were inside the Saints' 10-yard line in the third quarter, and the crowd noise once again rendered his hearing aids null and void. He heard nothing as he ran a pass pattern in the flat. Wilson threw instead to tight end Kellen Davis, but the ball careened off Davis' helmet right toward Coleman.
There were no distractions. He heard no one say "Drop it," or "Catch it," or "Look out, Four Ears.'' Sometimes being deaf has its benefits, and, in the blink of an eye, Derrick Coleman's main survival skill -- concentration -- helped him score his first regular-season NFL touchdown.
He couldn't hear the applause.
But he listened to it.