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Danny O'Neil covers the Seahawks for The Seattle Times.

July 11, 2012 at 10:08 AM

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Person of interest: WR Deon Butler

Two years ago was the first time I wondered if Deon Butler was going to be back.

He was a third-round pick that Pete Carroll had inherited, and at 5 feet 10, he knew he didn't quite fit the size specifications that Carroll seemed to prefer at that position.

And then Butler not only made the team in 2010, but he started eight games.

I wondered if Butler was going to be back last season, but for an entirely different reason. He suffered a downright awful leg injury in December, both bones in his lower leg fracturing after a touchdown reception in San Francisco. He needed surgery and extensive rehabilitation for the kind of injury that throws a career into question.

Butler began the season on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, but was activated in early November -- 11 months after the injury -- and played in the team's final five games.

So now? I'm kind of done wondering whether Butler is going to be back. I know there are plenty of people who don't see a spot for him on this roster with Sidney Rice coming back, the emergence of Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate and then the younger prospects like Kris Durham and Ricardo Lockette.

Go ahead, crunch the numbers, but come Sept. 1, I think it would be very hard for Seattle to pick its 53 best players for the roster and not have Butler among that group.

That's not to say it's impossible. He's not a special-teams mainstay like veteran Ben Obomanu has been, and he hasn't shown that uncanny knack as a slot receiver like Baldwin did. He doesn't have the height of Rice, Durham or Mike Williams -- all of whom stand 6-4 or taller.

But Butler is in the conversation for the fastest receiver on the roster, and he has shown a professionalism and ability to bounce back from both adversity and injury. And the past two years have shown that for all the questions of whether he'll be back, the guy listed as the smallest player on Seattle's roster has some staying power.

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