Steelers director of communications Burt Lauten provided the update on Shazier, who was forced to leave Monday night's road game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium due to a spinal injury:
Burt Lauten @SteelersPRBurt
Statement from UPMC Neurosurgeons & #Steelers Team Physicians on Ryan Shazier https://t.co/nE7xgsx7Tx2017-12-7 19:13:13
Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported Shazier is facing "months of recovery" before considering his NFL future. Meanwhile, Michele Steele of ESPN spoke with neurologist Dr. Anthony Alessi, who said the defender "may not play football again."
"This is a much more severe situation on our hands than we thought," Alessi said.
Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin visited the linebacker in a Cincinnati-area hospital after Monday's game and said their conversation was "strangely normal."
"Ryan is a legitimate leader," he told reporters. "You know, he's asking about the guys—[Vince Williams], specifically. I told him about the guys. We talked about how the game unfolded and some of those things. Normal conversations. Not only is he mentally tough, but he's a guy that's spiritually in a great place, and I know that's an asset for he and his family."
The 25-year-old Florida native posted a message on social media Tuesday thanking people for their support:
Ryan Shazier @RyanShazier
Thank you for the prayers. Your support is uplifting to me and my family. #SHALIEVE2017-12-5 23:38:45
On Wednesday, the Steelers announced Shazier had returned to Pittsburgh for further treatment.
The Ohio State product has played all four years of his pro career with the Steelers, who chose him with the 15th overall pick in the 2014 draft. He earned his first Pro Bowl selection in 2016.