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Hawk Talk highlights: Malcolm Smith's role

By Brady Henderson

Linebacker was an offseason question mark for the Seahawks, who needed to replace Leroy Hill and didn't have much experience behind returning starters Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright.

"We don't have a lot of depth. We're very, very young at that position," coach Carroll told 710 ESPN Seattle's "The John Clayton Show" from the scouting combine in February.

Those comments only fueled the assumption that the Seahawks would address the position in the draft. They didn't, only signing a trio of undrafted-free-agent linebackers who are no longer with the team.

Six months later, you can count the state of Seattle's linebacker corp among the biggest surprises of this season. The position is still a question, but a different kind of question entirely thanks largely to Bruce Irvin's so-far-successful transition from defensive end and the way Malcolm Smith has played in replacement duty – first during Irvin's suspension and over the last two games while Wagner was out with an ankle injury.

The question now is what Smith's role will be once Wagner returns. Danny O'Neil discussed this topic during the latest edition of "Hawk Talk" on Tuesday.

rodman asked if Wagner could lose his starting job because of the way Smith has played.

O'Neil: I think Malcolm Smith is playing well, however, I don't see a scenario where Bobby Wagner isn't starting when he returns.

Beast followed up with a similar question, noting that 710 ESPN Seattle's Dave Wyman – who played linebacker for nine seasons in the NFL – believes Smith is the team's best linebacker.

O'Neil: Not sure. I know Dave is very impressed by the way Malcolm Smith has played this season, and he pays special attention to that position for sure.

An anonymous guest asked what the Seahawks will do with fullback Derrick Coleman once he returns from the hamstring injury that precipitated the re-signing of Michael Robinson.

O'Neil: Not sure, but the fact that it was Spencer Ware and not Derrick Coleman put on IR certainly speaks to the hope that Coleman will be back.

BB asked if Robinson's return will help running back Marshawn Lynch "play better".

O'Neil: You think he's playing poorly? Because he's carrying less frequently than he did last season and is No. 2 in the league in rushing yards.

Easilyamused asked whether quarterback Russell Wilson has taken the biggest hits while he's been in the pocket or scrambling.

O'Neil: So far, he has taken the biggest hits when he's behind the line of scrimmage as opposed to running downfield. And really, it's not all that close.

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