PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier remains in a Cincinnati hospital with a back injury.
Coach Mike Tomlin offered no update on Shazier’s condition or his prognosis on Tuesday, more than 12 hours after Shazier left on a stretcher in the first quarter of Pittsburgh’s 23-20 victory over Cincinnati after tackling Bengals wide receiver Josh Malone. Shazier underwent a CT scan and an MRI late Monday.
The team says Shazier will not require surgery “at this time,” but Tomlin said he would wait until hearing from the medical team attending to Shazier before releasing more information.
Tomlin says he spoke to Shazier before leaving Cincinnati and that Shazier was in good spirits. Tomlin says Shazier challenged his teammates to “move on.”
The first-place Steelers host division rival Baltimore on Sunday night.
The team released a statement saying that Shazier continues to improve and the Steelers were hopeful he could return to Pittsburgh later Tuesday.
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.”
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.”