Steelers wide receivers coach Darryl Drake has passed away at age 62, the team announced on Sunday.
Drake, who was in preparations for his second season with the team, had been participating in the team’s training camp at St. Vincent College near Latrobe, Pa.
“We are at a loss for words following Darryl Drake’s passing this morning,” Steelers president Art Rooney II said in a press release. “Darryl had such an impact on the players he coached and everyone he worked with throughout his entire career. He was a passionate coach and had a tremendous spirit toward life, his family, his faith and the game of football.
“Our prayers and thoughts are with his wife, Sheila, his three daughters, his grandchildren and entire family during this difficult time.”
The team canceled its scheduled practice session for Sunday and closed the campus to visitors in response to Drake’s death, the circumstances of which have not been announced.
“Darryl was a close friend and had a tremendous impact on my coaching career,” head coach Mike Tomlin said in a press release. “He was an amazing husband, father and grandfather, and it is difficult to put into words the grief our entire team is going through right now.
“Darryl loved the game of football and every player he ever coached. We will use our faith to guide us and help his family throughout the difficult time.”
Drake joined the Steelers before the 2018 season, and in his first year with the team, saw two of his charges — Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster — selected to the 2018 NFL Pro Bowl after 1,000-yard seasons.
He came to Pittsburgh after stints in the NFL as a wide receivers coach with the Arizona Cardinals (2013-17) and Chicago Bears (2004-12). In those stops, he coached notable NFL wide receivers such as Larry Fitzgerald and Alshon Jeffery. He coached with Chicago in Super Bowl XLI.
Before that, Drake was associate head coach (2003) and wide receivers coach (1998-02) at Texas. He spent 1997 as Baylor’s offensive coordinator and was Georgia’s wide receivers coach from 1992-96. Drake got his coaching start at his alma mater, Western Kentucky, where he was a graduate assistant, wide receivers coach, defensive backs coach and quarterbacks coach from 1983-90.
Drake played professionally for the Washington Redskins, Ottawa Rough Riders and Cincinnati Bengals after graduating from WKU in 1978.
Highlights from Steelers Practice 9/18/20
James Conner tested out his injured ankle and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw passes to JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington and Chase Claypool during practice on Friday, September 18, 2020.
This practice was in preparation for the Steelers week 2 game on Sunday against the Denver Broncos.
Cam Heyward Named NFLPA Community MVP for Week 1
Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward has been named NFLPA Community MVP for Week 1.
Heyward was honored for installing his first Little Free Library, a book-sharing box placed in underserved communities around the Pittsburgh area.
Congrats to @camheyward on being named Week 1 #CommunityMVP for installing his first Little Free Library. The book-sharing boxes provide 24-7 access to literacy for underserved Pittsburgh communities while honoring the legacy in education of his late grandfather. pic.twitter.com/uKwbnz28A1— NFLPA (@NFLPA) September 18, 2020
Little Free Library is a non-profit organization that “inspires a love of reading, builds community, and sparks creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges around the world.”
The installation of the book-sharing boxes marks the launch of the Rufus and Judy Jordan Literacy Project, a new initiative of the Cameron Heyward Foundation that will work to promote children’s literacy and honor his late grandparents, both of whom were lifelong educators in Pittsburgh.
Drafted in first round of the 2011 NFL Draft out of Ohio State, Heyward has spend his entire career in Pittsburgh. He is a three-time Pro Bowler, and has twice received First-Team All-Pro honors.
Heyward and the Steelers agreed to a four-year, $71.4 million contract extension on Sept. 6 that will allow him to retire in Pittsburgh and make him the highest-paid defense player over the age of 30 in NFL history.
Highlights from Steelers Practice 9/17/20
The Steelers finally experienced a practice with almost everyone on the roster able to take the field. Only two players did not take part in practice before their week 2 game against Denver.
Alex Highsmith and Minkah Fitzpatrick stood out from the rest on Thursday, September 17, 2020.