PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pittsburgh Steelers Pro Bowl linebacker Ryan Shazier won’t play again this season.
Yet he remains very much a part of the team even after injuring his spine against Cincinnati last month.
Shazier attended practice on Wednesday for the first time since undergoing spine stabilization surgery on Dec. 6.
Shazier posted a photo on Instagram from the team’s indoor training facility as Pittsburgh prepared to host Jacksonville in the divisional round of the playoffs. Shazier is pictured in a wheelchair wearing sweatpants and a Steelers jacket, a visit that gave his teammates a needed jolt.
“It was awesome to see him,” guard Ramon Foster said. “Everybody is worried but him and it proves that he’s as strong as it gets.”
The extent of Shazier’s injury has not been released. In his Instagram post, he said his visit to the facility was “a first down” in his recovery. Shazier wrote he has been “making strides” over the past month but added he is “far from done.” The 25-year-old says he is “working harder than ever” to get back.
The Steelers host the Jaguars on Sunday and the winner will advance to the AFC title game. Shazier is helping his team prepare. Defensive end Cam Heyward said Shazier is helping break down film like a scout, an extension of his role as the defensive play caller.
“He was the quarterback of the defense,” outside linebacker Bud Dupree. “He was the person who knew things were coming before the play was snapped. He helps us out a lot too, even while he is in the hospital.”
Updates on Shazier’s condition have been sparse, though his father Vernon said in a TV interview last week he believes Shazier will play again. Not that it matters to his teammates. For now, Shazier’s presence is merely enough.
“It’s amazing to see and just to have the attitude he has after all he’s been through man, it’s pretty impressive,” guard David DeCastro. “I don’t know if I’d be able to do the same.”
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