Ryan Shazier injury update: Steelers cautiously optimistic, still concerned

The Steelers offered an optimistic update on linebacker Ryan Shazier on Tuesday morning, saying Shazier would "not require surgery at this time" but that he would remain in the hospital for evaluation. 

"Ryan Shazier suffered a back injury and was taken to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center where he had a CT scan and an MRI to evaluate the condition of his back," Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said in a statement from the team. "Ryan's injury will not require surgery at this time and he continues to improve. He will stay overnight and continue evaluations with the hopes of returning to Pittsburgh on Tuesday.

"We will provide further updates at the appropriate time."

On Tuesday, Dr. David Okonkwo and Dr. Joseph Cheng released a joint statement that said Shazier is expected to "undergo additional testing and evaluation over the next 24 to 48 hours." Then, it is expected that he will return to Pittsburgh for further evaluation.

Shazier was injured Monday night in Cincinnati, lowering his head and leading with the crown of his helmet on a hit to Bengals wide receiver Josh Malone, leading to a back injury.

Shazier immediately clutched at his back, causing worry for many in attendance at Paul Brown Stadium. Colbert was on the field talking to coach Mike Tomlin, and based on one version of lip reading, appeared to reveal the seriousness of Shazier's injury.

His teammates immediately crowded around him and multiple shots of them showed an emotional and concerned group. 

Shazier was able to roll over before the training staff immobilized him and he was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital trauma center. Social media was flooded with other players and teams -- both in the NFL and other sports -- offering up prayers for the linebacker. 

A report from NFL Media's Aditi Kinkhabwala indicates that Shazier has a spinal contusion, and that doctors will know more once some of the swelling subsides and they are able to properly diagnose the situation.

Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported early Tuesday that two players called it a "spinal chord concussion," something that former Steelers quarterback Tommy Maddox returned from to play again in 2002. 

After watching the injury live, it would be stunning to find out that Shazier can play again. It would also be fantastic news for the Steelers from a football perspective, although obviously the bigger concern is the linebacker's long-term health. 

Colbert, along with Tomlin and Steelers president Art Rooney, were spotted going into the Cincy hospital after the game.

The injury looked like it could have devastating, life-altering implications when it happened Monday night. Any sort of optimism is a positive. 

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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