Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier to remain in Cincinnati until Wednesday at earliest
Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier will not return to Pittsburgh until Wednesday or Thursday at the earliest.
Shazier was carted off the field with an apparent spinal injury in the first quarter of Monday's 23-20 victory against the Cincinnati Bengals. Shazier had a CT scan and an MRI exam at University of Cincinnati Medical Center and did not require surgery.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Steelers said via Twitter that Shazier will undergo additional evaluation in Cincinnati and is expected to return to Pittsburgh on Wednesday or Thursday.
Coach Mike Tomlin believes the Steelers will be mentally and emotionally ready to get back on the field, even in the wake of Shazier's jarring injury.
For those concerned just got off the phone with 50. He's in good spirits already making progress! God has him. Keep praying keep believing in faith. Never thought I'd say this but #Shalieve lol— Mike Mitchell (@iammikemitchell) December 5, 2017
Tomlin said the weekly process of game preparation will help Shazier's teammates cope and stay focused for grueling games ahead against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday night at Heinz Field and New England Patriots on Dec. 17.
"We're 13 (games) into that cycle of preparation and play," Tomlin said. "When they come through that door tomorrow, we'll reset and start anew, like we always do."
The Steelers erased a 17-0 deficit against the Bengals. Chris Boswell kicked a winning, 38-yard field goal as time expired.
"Guys made the necessary plays. They stuck together and relied on one another," Tomlin said. "The resolve of the group was very evident, and I'm proud of them for that. Hopefully, we can utilize those experiences to strengthen us as we face the battles that lie ahead."
Before flying back to Pittsburgh, Tomlin visited Shazier in the hospital.
"Ryan is a trooper," Tomlin said. "He's in really good spirits. A tough guy. He's got great support from family and loved ones there. It was painful (for me) to get on that plane, but you understand he's in really good hands."
Tomlin said team neurosurgeon Dr. David Okonkwo traveled to Cincinnati with the Steelers and remained there with Shazier.
Tomlin described his conversation with Shazier in the hospital as "strangely normal" and said Shazier was in good spirits.
"He challenged us to move on with what we need to move on with," Tomlin said. "We'll do that."
Shazier asked about his teammates, including inside linebacker Vince Williams, who made a team-high nine tackles (four solo), including a sack, against the Bengals.
"Not only is (Shazier) a tough guy, but he is spiritually in the right place," Tomlin said. "I know that's an asset for him and his family."
Shazier's injury set the tone for what turned into a brutally hard-hitting game.
Linebacker Tyler Matakevich, Shazier's backup, was forced out in the third quarter with a shoulder injury. The Bengals lost four players to injuries. The two teams combined for 20 penalties.
Some analysts suggested that kind of play reflects poorly on the game.
"I'm not going to react to comments or opinions by others," Tomlin said. "I'll acknowledge there were some unfortunate things in the game that we don't need in our game, by both sides. My job is to minimize those things that we're involved with before they occur. But they did last night. We'll make an accounting of that and work hard to make sure they don't happen again."
Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.