PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier will remain at University of Cincinnati Medical Center for a second consecutive night Tuesday while doctors monitor his back injury.
A joint statement from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s director of neurotrauma David Okonkwo and chief of neurosurgery for UC Health Joseph Cheng said Shazier has undergone a series of tests to evaluate his spine injury.
“He will continue to be monitored and treated by the neurosurgery experts at UC Medical Center until he has been cleared to return to Pittsburgh,” the statement said. “It is expected that Ryan will undergo additional tests and evaluation over the next 24 to 48 hours, and he will then return to Pittsburgh to receive further evaluation and care at UPMC.”
Okonkwo is also a neurosurgeon on the Steelers’ medical staff.
Shazier was strapped to a board and removed from the field after suffering the injury on a tackling attempt in the first quarter of the Steelers’ 23-20 win over the Bengals. Shazier’s helmet crown collided with Bengals receiver Josh Malone’s rib/hip area. Players were emotional as they crowded around him, with defensive end Cameron Heyward holding his hand.
Sources on Monday night were encouraged that Shazier’s injury would be better than originally anticipated but didn’t know the extent until the process played out.
Shazier spoke to multiple teammates Monday and has remained upbeat about the process. He tweeted out a message of gratitude to fans on Monday.
Thank you for the prayers. Your support is uplifting to me and my family. #SHALIEVE
— Ryan Shazier (@RyanShazier) December 5, 2017
Shazier is one of the Steelers’ best playmakers and is considered among the most likable teammates. He leads the Steelers in tackles (87), forced fumbles (two) and interceptions (three). Shazier also had a streak of four straight games with an interception late last season. He was hopeful to play his first full NFL season before the injury.
Coach Mike Tomlin was among those who visited Shazier early Tuesday morning.
“It was a tough evening. Ryan is a trooper,” Tomlin said. “Had an opportunity to spend some time with him; he is in really good spirits, tough guy. He has great support from family and loved ones there. It was painful to get on that plane last night. That’s life. We realize and understand he is in really good hands and getting expert medical care. He also challenged us to move on with what it is we need to move on, and he is with us as well.”