Pittsburgh Steelers: Ryan Shazier 'continues to improve' in hospital

By Jeff Wallner, The Sports Xchange  |  Dec. 5, 2017 at 10:23 AM
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CINCINNATI -- Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier, who was carted off the field during the first quarter of Pittsburgh's 23-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night, was due to remain in the hospital overnight.

However, following an MRI and CT scan, the condition of his injured back continued to improve and he would not require surgery, according to a statement issued by Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert.

Shazier, the Steelers' leading tackler through 11 games, was injured while making a tackle on Bengals wide receiver Josh Malone with 11:14 remaining in the first quarter. Shazier hit Malone low with his shoulder pads, then immediately reached for his back while his legs remained motionless.

"It's tough anytime anybody goes down," Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. "It's scary, sad, emotions are running like crazy. I've been doing this for a long time. I've been carted off the field before. It's a scary situation."

The NFL Network's Aditi Kimkhabwala reported shortly after Monday's game that the team was told Shazier had a spinal cord contusion, similar to what former Steelers QB Tommy Maddox sustained in 2002. Maddox lost feeling initially but fully recovered and only missed one game.

Shazier, a fourth-year linebacker, remained mostly motionless while he was attended to by trainers. He lifted his head at one point but never moved his legs.

"Obviously, we're all going to reach out to Ryan," Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward said. "We understand that this is a huge injury and it's not something you play around with. We're going to pray for him and hopefully he comes back healthy."

In the statement, Colbert said the team hoped Shazier could return to Pittsburgh on Tuesday.

Shazier was taken via ambulance to a level 1 trauma center at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center but requested that no updates be given on his condition except within the team.

"5-0 is our brother," said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, referring to Shazier's uniform number. "We care about that man. It's difficult to remain focused and play when your brother is laid out. Our thoughts and prayers go out to him."

Shazier's injury was among several to key players during Monday's game. The Bengals lost running back Joe Mixon to a concussion and cornerback Adam Jones to a groin injury. Vontaze Burfict sustained a head injury following a block by Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, who was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct and taunting on the play.

The Bengals had a franchise-record 173 penalty yards during the game. The Steelers had 66 penalty years.

In postgame remarks, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis scoffed at a reporter's question about the number of violent hits Monday.

"There's things in place to police this," Lewis said. "I think the game has changed. Football is a physical sport. It's probably not best for me to make a general comment."

Shazier, a former Ohio State star, led the Steelers in tackles in seven games this season.

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