'I think about him every day': Dwayne Haskins' death still hangs over Steelers as OTAs begin

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PITTSBURGH – As the Pittsburgh Steelers hit the fields for their first official offseason practice on Tuesday,  the team found itself having to adjust to the loss of quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who was killed after being struck by a dump truck on a Florida highway in the early morning of April 9.

Haskins, 24, was expected to compete for a spot on the depth chart and was in the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, area for a trip designed for teammates to train together and prepare for the offseason workouts.

Haskins had spent the 2020 season as a backup with the Steelers. Despite his short time with the franchise, teammates felt the absence left by his death.

“Dwayne – it’s just unfortunate,” defensive lineman Cameron Heyward said after Tuesday’s practice. “It’s really different. I never thought we’d be in this situation. I think more about his family than just us. Football, you move on, but family is even tougher. He was part of this community. He was only here not even that long, but everyone felt his presence, and we’ll miss him.”

The Steelers logo on the helmet before the game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Pittsburgh Steelers at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The Steelers logo on the helmet before the game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Pittsburgh Steelers at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Quarterback Mason Rudolph, who spent a good deal of time with Haskins while they battled for reps behind longtime starter Ben Roethlisberger, agreed with Heyward.

“As competitors, sometimes it can be awkward, as you guys know, but he was a good teammate to me and everybody, and I’m still kind of adjusting to him not ever going to be in the quarterback room again,” Rudolph said. “It’s sad and hard to wrap your head around. Death is hard, and we’re trying to move on as best as we can.”

Fellow quarterback Mitch Trubisky had only met Haskins a short time before the Ohio State product and 2019 first-round draft pick's death. They struck up a quick friendship, and Trubisky invited Haskins to train with teammates in Florida.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Trubisky said. “I think about him every day. I only knew him for a short time, but he definitely left an impact on my life the short time that I knew him. I think about him every day, when I wake up, step on the field, all those things. He’s in our hearts, and all we can do is honor him every day in how we live our lives.”

According to a toxicology report released Monday by the Broward County Medical Examiner's Office, Haskins was intoxicated at the time of his death. The medical examiner's office determined that he had a blood-alcohol concentration of at least 0.20% at the time of his autopsy. That is more than double Florida’s legal limit of .08%.

Follow USA TODAY Sports' Mike Jones on Twitter @ByMikeJones.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Dwayne Haskins' death still looms over Steelers as practices begin

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