CINCINNATI -- Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier suffered a back injury during Pittsburgh's 23-20 win over the Bengals on Monday night and remained hospitalized in Cincinnati overnight for evaluation.
Coach Mike Tomlin had no information about the extent of the injury after the game. ESPN reported that he went to the hospital to see Shazier on the team's way back to Pittsburgh.
The team released a statement saying that Shazier won't need surgery "at this time" and continues to improve. The Steelers were hopeful he could return to Pittsburgh later Tuesday.
According to NBC's Pro Football Talk, the injury was referred to as a spinal cord concussion, or contusion, with swelling involved. Former Steelers quarterback Tommy Maddox had a similar injury in 2002 which forced him to miss just one game, leading to optimism within the team regarding Shazier’s status as well. With Shazier potentially able to return to Pittsburgh on Tuesday, there appears to be many encouraging signs regarding Shazier’s health at this point.
Shazier lowered his shoulder and tackled receiver Josh Malone in the first quarter. He landed on his chest, reached for the middle of his back, and then rolled over. Shazier lifted his arms, flexing his right hand and calling for help, but otherwise did not appear to move much. He was removed from the field on a backboard and a cart, and then taken to a hospital for tests.
"Right now, we're just happy that he's getting the necessary medical attention that he deserves," Tomlin said.
It's a significant setback for one of the NFL's top defenses. The Pro Bowl linebacker leads the Steelers in tackles and has three interceptions.
"Ryan is one of the biggest players on this defense," linebacker Vince Williams said. "When we need a big play, he's one of the guys we look to. It's going to be tough."