Pittsburgh Steelers

Steelers LB Ryan Shazier hospitalized with back injury, won’t require surgery

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier underwent an MRI and a CT scan at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center after suffering a back injury in a collision with Cincinnati Bengals receiver Josh Malone early in the first quarter of Pittsburgh’s 23-20 win Monday night. Shazier left the stadium in an ambulance.

Shazier’s injury will not require surgery at this time, and he will stay overnight to continue evaluations with the hopes of returning to Pittsburgh on Tuesday, the team announced.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to him,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said immediately after the game. “He’s receiving quality medical care.”

Tomlin and Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert were seen entering the hospital minutes after Tomlin’s postgame news conference.

“Right now we’re just happy he’s getting the necessary medical attention he deserves,” Tomlin said. “We got a lot of brothers in there who are thoughtful about him, and want to honor that performance for him.”

Defensive end Cam Heyward said that Steelers owner Art Rooney II and coaches planned to see Shazier at the hospital while players were going home. Heyward said he was holding Shazier’s hand “to keep him calm.”

“I think everybody was quiet — their side, our side,” Heyward said. He added that his teammates told each other at halftime, “We have to get this W for 50.”

Tomlin said focusing on the game after the injury was difficult.

“We care about that man,” Tomlin said. “That’s a tough element of our game.”

Shazier led with his helmet into Malone’s thigh, then signaled to trainers as he rolled on the ground and appeared to hold his lower back. He was carted off the field after the injury.

The scene was somber as teammates looked emotional kneeling around Shazier, who was down on the grass for a few minutes with 10:58 on the clock. Tomlin looked affected as a team doctor informed him on the injury.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said after the game that the Steelers had to try to regroup after Shazier’s injury.

“It’s tough, scary, sad,” he said. “Emotions running like crazy. One of our leaders on defense. Scary situation. Thoughts and prayers to his family and [injured Bengals linebacker Vontaze] Burfict and his family. Pray for everyone involved.”

Shazier leads the team with 87 tackles along with his two forced fumbles and three interceptions this season. The fourth-year player out of Ohio State looked forward to playing his first full NFL season after missing games in each of the past three seasons.

Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict also was carted off the field in the fourth quarter after receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster leveled him with a high hit, and then walked over him. Smith-Schuster was flagged for an illegal hit and for taunting. Burfict was in concussion protocol after the game.

Burfict’s hit to Antonio Brown’s head during a 2015 playoff game at Paul Brown Stadium helped the Steelers rally for an 18-16 win and resulted in a three-game suspension for the Bengals linebacker. He’s kept up a running feud with Pittsburgh running back Le’Veon Bell on Twitter.

“There was so much going on that I didn’t even know it was Burfict at first when I hit him,” Smith-Schuster said. “When I saw the replay, I realized I should have held back. That’s not me. There were a lot of guys going down. I messed up.”

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