Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier was hospitalized after suffering a back injury during the first quarter of Monday’s 23-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, multiple team sources told NFL Network’s Aditi Kinkhabwala.
In a statement released by the team, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said Shazier underwent a CT scan and an MRI at the hospital and that he will not need surgery at this time. He said Shazier will remain in the hospital overnight for further evaluation with “hopes of returning to Pittsburgh on Tuesday.”
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday that Shazier has shown promising signs and has some movement in his lower extremities, according to a source informed of the player’s status. As doctors have informed both Rapoport and Kinkhabwala, movement does not return all at once. The next 24-48 hours are key for increased improvement.
Doctors will know more about Shazier’s injury once some of the injury’s swelling recedes, Kinkhabwala reported. Steelers owner Art Rooney II, coach Mike Tomlin and Colbert visited Shazier in the hospital after the game.
Additionally, Shazier’s parents are also in Cincinnati with him, per Kinkhabwala.
Tomlin offered no additional update on Shazier’s medical status when talking to the media Tuesday.
“I’d imagine, that at the appropriate time those that are responsible for his care will give you a reasonable assessment of where he is,” Tomlin said. “I’d imagine that to occur as soon as later today. But from my perspective, obviously, it was a tough evening. Ryan is a trooper. Had an opportunity to spend some time with him and he’s in really good spirits. Tough guy.”
Tomlin added: “Ryan is a legitimate leader. He was asking about the guys, Vince [Williams] particularly. I told him about the guys, we talked about how the game unfolded and some of those things — normal conversations. Not only is he a mentally tough guy but he’s a guy who is spiritually in a great place and I know that is an asset to him and his family.”
Shazier was strapped to a backboard and carted off the field after he rammed his helmet into receiver Josh Malone’s thigh. He immediately reached for his back and wiggled both arms into the air. His legs did not appear to move after the hit.
Teammates took a knee in support of Shazier as medical personnel tended to him. The linebacker was initially taken to the locker room for a back injury evaluation before being transported by ambulance to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
“This is a tough game, a tough business,” Tomlin said after the game. “5-0 is our brother. Our thoughts and prayers out to him. … We care about that man, we care about all the men. But that’s just a tough element of our game, one that we all understand.”
The 2016 Pro Bowl selection was enjoying another fine season as one of the league’s premier defensive playmakers. Tyler Matakevich, a 2016 seventh-round draft pick, entered the game as Shazier’s replacement next to Vince Williams at linebacker.