The Pittsburgh Steelers are already pretty deep into the beginnings of their offseason, having changed offensive coordinators and added a new position coach to their staff. With wide receivers coach Richard Mann retiring, head coach Mike Tomlin elected to bring in Arizona Cardinals wide receivers coach Darryl Drake.
I have already previously written about Drake and the sort of mentality that he brings to the position, which I believe should be a fitting second act to the old-school fundamentals and physical approach that Mann tried to instill.
Among those that he has worked with in his career are Brandon Marshall and Larry Fitzgerald. Oh, and Hines Ward, whom he coached in college. Many Steelers fans were hoping that Ward, who has expressed interest in possibly taking the job, would indeed assume that role in Mann’s footsteps.
He did not. But that does not mean that that is the last we have heard from the former Steelers great. In fact, I would imagine that we will continue to see him this year once again in some capacity.
After the team drafted 20-year-old wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, the Steelers brought Ward in to work with him, and he ultimately served as a coaching intern during training camp, working with the entire wide receiver group.
They brought him back a handful of times during the course of the regular season as well, and even during the bye week leading into their first postseason game. Even Antonio Brown, so Ward claims, was able to learn a thing or two.
I don’t see why Ward would not return this summer as a coaching intern in Latrobe. He would not be alone, after all, or at least I hope. Former Steelers great—and current Hall of Fame finalist—Alan Faneca has been working with the offensive line under Mike Munchak as a coaching intern for the past two seasons.
He could be a coaching intern. Or he could even be formally brought onto the staff as an assistant position coach, the way that Shaun Sarrett is an assistant under Munchak. The Steelers have among the smallest coaching staffs in the NFL, with very few ‘assistant’ coaches to their assistants, but that could always change.
Maybe not this year, but it would not be surprising if at some point Ward finds himself back in the Steelers organization in some form or fashion. Could he pursue coaching elsewhere, perhaps at his alma mater if given the opportunity? Certainly. Either way, it would be interesting to see how he fares in that aspect of football.