Derrick Coleman was three years old when he lost most of his ability to hear. The former UCLA running back was in the seventh grade when he started playing football.
“We found a way for me to play,” he told Detroitlions.com during his pre-draft visit Monday. “We had to make a lot of modifications when I first started with the helmet and having to wear a skull cap (so his hearing aids wouldn’t fall out), but once all that was squared away, I just focused on football.”
Coleman can hear with the use of those hearing aides but also reads lips to help him. He still wears the skull cap under his helmet and over his ears so his hearing aids don’t pop out when he gets hit.
Most people would view Coleman’s hearing limitations as a disadvantage in his pursuit to play in the NFL, but he says it’s an advantage.
Because he’s hard of hearing, Coleman says he has to concentrate more than other players and has to learn the playbook and all the audibles to a point where it’s just second nature to him.
“I don’t have to focus a little more. I have to focus a lot more,” Coleman said. “It’s a huge advantage to me. Almost 80 percent of the time I already know what the quarterback is going to audible to because I have to get with them before because I might not be able to hear the call at the least second. I already know if it’s this play he’s going to change it to either this or this and I have to know why.
“In order to do that, I spend more time with the offensive line and the quarterbacks just to make sure we’re all on the same page.”
Coleman was the winner of the Tommy Prothro Award for Outstanding Special Teams Player the last two years at UCLA and was the team’s second-leading rusher last year with 725 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Coleman is a bigger back (6-0, 230) and knows exactly what he brings to the table.
“I know what type of runner I am,” he said. “I’m a bruiser and I’m going to fall forward every time. All I’m trying to get is four yards and five yards a carry and everything else after that is just a luxury.”
The Lions drafted Mikel Leshoure in the second round last year not only as a dynamic runner, but also as a bigger back who could get the tough yards.
Leshoure is coming off a torn Achilles tendon and the uncertainty surrounding him could prompt the Lions to be in the market for a bigger back like Coleman.
Teams are also looking at Coleman as a fullback and he’s projected as a late-round pick or undrafted free agent in next weeks NFL Draft.
Coleman said he’s also visited the Raiders and Seahawks.
Frey says he has the disposition to be good press corner in NFL
It takes a certain type of cornerback in the NFL to want to play press man coverage.
“You have to have that want to,” Former Nevada cornerback Isaiah Frey said during his pre-draft visit with the Lions Monday.
“It’s just something you have to want to do. A lot of people have the ability to do it but they just don’t want to. It’s all in your mind, basically. I feel like I have a good understanding of press technique.”
A three-year starter at Nevada, Frey led the Western Athletic Conference with 16 pass breakups as a senior last year and also chipped in five interceptions.
Frey has good size at 6-foot, 190 pounds and a ton of playing experience. He said he played a majority of man coverage at Nevada and most analysts view him as a good prospect late in the draft or as an undrafted rookie free agent.
“When you get into camp it doesn’t matter if you were drafted in this round or picked up as a free agent,” he said. “You can either play or you can’t play. I just want to show them that I can play.”
Frey has also visited the Chargers.
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