Steelers LB Shazier showing improvement
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier is showing "some improvement that is encouraging" after suffering a serious spinal injury, according to his father.
Shazier underwent spinal stabilisation surgery in Pittsburgh on December 6 after being transferred by medivac helicopter from Cincinnati, where he was injured in the Steelers' 23-20 NFL win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Steelers' leading tackler lowered his head to stop Bengals receiver Josh Malone less than four minutes into the match on December 4.
Shazier, in his fourth year from Ohio State, had his hands over his head when carted off the field. Steelers linebacker Vince Williams was in tears kneeling next to Shazier as trainers tended to him.
The 25-year-old continues to recover Vernon Shazier said the family continues to rely on their deep faith.
"We're taking it one day at a time," Vernon told ESPN. "We do not know what tomorrow holds. It's a [daily] journey we don't know. But I know God is getting the message."
Ryan Shazier made an emotional appearance at Heinz Field on Sunday for the Steelers' clash against reigning Super Bowl champions the New England Patriots, his first trip out of the hospital since surgery.
Vernon said before his interview with ESPN that he could not get into specifics of his son's injury.
The Steelers have not elaborated in detail what Shazier's surgery entailed nor about his prognosis.
"We're praying for healing and keeping our mind and faith strong. We know we're in a deep valley, but we do not feel alone," said Vernon, an NFL chaplain who added: "It's easy to be faithful in a storm, but we're not talking about a drizzle. We're talking about a hurricane, a category five [hurricane], lots of metaphors to describe it."
On Tuesday, Shazier was announced as a Pro Bowl representative for his 89 tackles, three interceptions and two forced fumbles through 12 games and his team-mates who have visited him said he is eager to talk football strategy for the Steelers as they look to the playoffs.
Meanwhile, his father said Tuesday's announcement ticks one box for his son.
"Ryan had two goals going into the year -- a Pro Bowl and a Super Bowl," Vernon said. "He's been able to check one off the list. He's hoping to check the next one off."