Falcons' Adrian Clayborn mourns loss of friend, teammate Tyler Sash

Just two years ago, Atlanta Falcons defensive end Adrian Clayborn found himself "in the middle of nowhere" in Oskaloosa, Iowa, playing in a celebrity golf tournament with good friend and college teammate Tyler Sash.

Now, all Clayborn has is fond memories of the times he spent with his fellow Iowa Hawkeye.

Sash, who won a Super Bowl as a member of the New York Giants, died suddenly on Tuesday. An autopsy showed no acute trauma in the 27-year-old's death.

Word of Sash's passing was a complete shock to Clayborn. He re-tweeted a picture of the two together.

"It was tough, man," Clayborn said. "You never expect that stuff to happen. It's hard to talk about. I don't even have the words for it. We were close. It just sucks. You wouldn't expect it, him being so young."

Both Clayborn and Sash were selected in the 2011 NFL draft -- Clayborn in the first round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Sash in the sixth round by the Giants.

Clayborn is now a key figure in the Falcons' rebuilt defense and is expected to team with rookie Vic Beasley Jr. to create intense pressure on quarterbacks from the right side. Asked if he would do anything special to honor Sash this season, Clayborn responded, "I'm just going to try and play as hard as I can because I know that's the way he played. That's the way he would want me to play."

This weekend, Iowa will honor Sash by switching out one of its "Tigerhawk" decals for Sash's No. 9 for Saturday's game at Iowa State.