Steelers LB Ryan Shazier hospitalized after suffering spinal injury vs. Bengals


Shazier is still being monitored.

On the first offensive possession of the game for the Cincinnati Bengals, linebacker Ryan Shazier of the Pittsburgh Steelers appeared to suffer a serious back injury on an attempt to make a tackle.

Shazier tweeted from the hospital on Tuesday afternoon to thank fans for their support.

On Tuesday afternoon, head coach Mike Tomlin spoke to the media about Shazier.

“I really have no update in terms of his medical status other than what was released earlier,” he said. “I would imagine at the appropriate time that those who are responsible for his care will give you a reasonable assessment of where he is. I imagine that would occur as soon as later on today.”

“From my perspective, obviously it was a tough evening,” he said. “Ryan’s a trooper. I had an opportunity to spend some time with him, and he’s in good spirits.”

The first official statement from the Steelers was encouraging:

The neurosurgeons at UC Medical Center who are directing Shazier’s care released an update through the team on Tuesday afternoon.

Although the Steelers did not say what the injury was, a report from Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL Network said it was a “spinal contusion.”

What happened? After his tackle attempt, Shazier immediately reached for the middle of his back and stayed down on the field. Eventually he was strapped to a backboard and put on the back of a cart and taken to the locker room.

The ESPN broadcast on Monday Night Football noted that Shazier didn’t move his legs after the hit. According to Kinkhabwala, he was taken out of the stadium in an ambulance shortly after he was carted off the field.

What did the Steelers say? Immediately after the game, Mike Tomlin said the team had no update on Shazier’s status.

“This is a tough game, tough business,” Tomlin said. “5-0 (Shazier) is our brother.”

Early reports from the locker room were optimistic:

On Tuesday morning, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that Shazier had some movement in his lower body:

Kinkhabwala reported that the team sent a private plane to pick up Shazier’s parents to bring them to Cincinnati.

Shazier, 25, is a former first-round pick for the Steelers who has developed into one of the best young linebackers in the NFL. He earned a spot in the Pro Bowl last year and has forced two fumbles and caught three interceptions so far in 2017.

What does this mean for the Steelers? The most important thing for now is just that Shazier is OK after what appeared to be a serious injury.

With Shazier out of the lineup, Pittsburgh turned to Tyler Matakevich to step in to his place. The second-year linebacker was a seventh-round pick in 2016 and has appeared in all 28 games of his career, but has never made a start. Matakevich later left the game with an injury.

The Steelers came back to beat the Bengals a violent — and frankly, depressing — game.

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