Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier has been transferred from a Cincinnati hospital to a University of Pittsburgh Medical Center facility, the team announced Wednesday, for treatment and further testing on a spinal injury that he suffered during the first quarter of Monday night’s win over the Bengals.
“He will continue tests and evaluations before his medical team provides any further updates on his condition,” the Steelers said in a statement. “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.”
Shazier was flown by medical helicopter from the Cincinnati hospital at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday. His family flew by private jet to Pittsburgh at around the same time, sources told ESPN’s Michele Steele.
Shazier left Paul Brown Stadium on a stretcher less than four minutes into his team’s 23-20 victory following a tackle that left the 25-year-old writhing on the turf, his legs motionless. He underwent extensive testing overnight, with the team saying Shazier’s injury did not require surgery “at this time.”
The Steelers had hoped Shazier would be able to return to Pittsburgh on Tuesday, but the timetable was pushed back, and he remained in Cincinnati under the care of neurosurgeons David Okonkwo and Joseph Cheng.
ESPN sources on Monday night were encouraged that Shazier’s injury would be less severe than originally anticipated but told the extent would not be known until the process played out.
Shazier spoke to multiple teammates, and he has remained upbeat about the process. He tweeted a message of gratitude to fans on Tuesday.
Thank you for the prayers. Your support is uplifting to me and my family. #SHALIEVE
— Ryan Shazier (@RyanShazier) December 5, 2017
Inside the Steelers locker room Wednesday was a combination of optimism and concern. A small group of players, including quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and safety Mike Mitchell, spoke to Shazier this week and relayed to their teammates that the linebacker is progressing, positive and upbeat. Concern comes from the lack of concrete updates on Shazier’s condition, either through word of mouth or officially.
The Steelers had Shazier on their minds Wednesday, with linebacker Vince Williams wearing a No. 50 jersey at practice. Players still felt the effects of the Shazier injury, which made finishing Monday night’s game at Cincinnati that much more difficult.
“To be totally honest with you, we didn’t [finish],” Mitchell said. “Shoot, I cried, Vinny cried, that was my brother, when we walked out there. That was the one thing that really shook me up a little bit. Shaz is as tough as nails. When I looked at him, he had tears in his eyes. I could clearly see he was scared. For him to say to me what he said, it took all the strength out of my legs. I don’t think we did get it together until after the half. I see it affect some of their guys. Didn’t nobody really want to play when you saw that. I seen it happen to the kid from Rutgers, but that was a couple years ago. But I was watching it on TV — not that I’m not sympathetic or anything, I was kinda shocked and distraught by that — to have it be my brother, see it from 20 feet away, obviously, significant.”
Shazier is one of the Steelers’ best playmakers, leading the team in tackles (87), forced fumbles (two) and interceptions (three). He had a streak of four straight games with an interception late last season.
ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler contributed to this report.
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Steelers’ Shazier moved to Pittsburgh hospital