Ryan Shazier injury update: Steelers LB returns to Pittsburgh, to undergo tests, evaluations

Four days after undergoing spinal surgery, Shazier is showing "gradual improvement," while doctors limit his movement as swelling subsides.

Ryan Shazier is back in Pittsburgh, where the Steelers linebacker will continue to receive medical care for his injured back.

"We again want to thank the doctors and staff at UC Health's University of Cincinnati Medical Center for the excellent care Ryan received while at that facility," the Steelers said in a statement Wednesday announcing that Shazier's treatment would continue at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

He will "continue tests and evaluations before his medical team provides any further updates on his condition."

Shazier was flown by medical helicopter from the Cincinnati hospital at 2:30 p.m. local time Wednesday. His family flew by private jet to Pittsburgh at around the same time, unidentified sources told ESPN.

Meanwhile, the Steelers began to go about their business of preparing in earnest for their next game, Sunday night against the Ravens, in part because that's what Shazier wants them to do, said quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who had spoken to Shazier.

“We send our thoughts and prayers for Ryan and his family, but we have a game,” Ben Roethlisberger told reporters Wednesday (via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). “We know that’s what Ryan wants. In talking to Ryan, that’s what he wants. So we’re going to go out and prepare for the Baltimore Ravens like Ryan would want us to do and is asking us to do.”

Roethlisberger didn't offer any other details of his conversation with Shazier, only adding: “It’s a brother. It’s a teammate. You never like to see injuries happen in football. It’s a scary incident. We just continue to pray for him and his family.”

The Steelers and Ravens meet Sunday night in primetime, and the Ravens were among those in the outpouring of support for Shazier in the hours after his injury.

The Steelers on Wednesday announced that they've signed linebacker Sean Spence to add depth at the position after Shazier's injury.

Shazier tweeted for the first time since the injury Tuesday night, saying he was thankful for the support and prayers but didn't offer any update on his injury.

NFL Media reported Tuesday that Shazier has movement in his lower extremities after the injury suffered Monday night against the Bengals.

Steelers safety Mike Mitchell also spoke with Shazier, saying he is "in good spirits, already making progress."

The team was told Shazier has a bruised spinal cord with some swelling involved. They won't know more until the swelling goes down, but it is encouraging news for Shazier.

Another teammate, guard Ramon Foster, admitted Shazier's injury shook him.

“This was one of the first times ever, in my entire life of playing football, where I felt scared of football,” Foster said Tuesday on Pittsburgh's 93.7 The Fan. “That wasn’t normal. I’ve seen a lot of catastrophic stuff, but never anybody take a hit like that.”

Foster says he was able to keep playing by keeping in mind, as Tomlin said, Shazier was in good hands.

“You try to zone in away from it,” Foster said. “You know that he’s going to have some of the best doctors and staff around him and that’s what you hope on right there. You’ve got to be a little thick-minded in a sense knowing that, ‘Hey, I’ve still got a job and a game to play.'”

Shazier was placed on a backboard and carted off the field at Paul Brown Stadium early in the first quarter of Monday's game.

The Steelers' leading tackler, Shazier lowered his head to stop Bengals receiver Josh Malone less than four minutes into Monday's game. Shazier, in his fourth year from Ohio State, had his hands over his head when carted off the field. Steelers linebacker Vince Williams was in tears kneeling next to Shazier as trainers tended to him.

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