Ryan Shazier starts rehab less than two weeks after suffering devastating injury

Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier is officially on the road to recovery. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center announced on Thursday that Shazier has begun physical rehabilitation. 

The announcement comes less than two weeks after Shazier was injured during the first quarter of a Monday night game in Cincinnati. 

"Ryan Shazier remains hospitalized at UPMC recovering from the spinal stabilization surgery performed last week," the UPMC said in a statement. "Mr. Shazier has started physical rehabilitation as part of his recovery process."

Shazier has been hospitalized since Dec. 4 when he suffered the injury against the Bengals. The Steelers linebacker had to be strapped to a board after he injured himself while trying to make a tackle on Bengals receiver Josh Malone. On the play, the crown of Shazier's helmet slammed into Malone's hip area. 

The Steelers linebacker then spent spent two nights in Cincinnati before being transferred to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center on Dec. 6. Shazier underwent spinal stabilization surgery on the same day that he was transferred to the Pittsburgh hospital. Six days after the surgery, the Steelers placed Shazier on injured reserve

Although he suffered a scary injury, Shazier has been in good spirits over the past two weeks. The injured linebacker even got to celebrate with his team after the Steelers clinched the AFC North with a wild win over the Ravens on Sunday. Shazier connected with the team through FaceTime after the game, which Mike Tomlin called a "special" moment. 

"A very emotional group in there. AFC North champs. We had Ryan Shazier on FaceTime," Tomlin said. "He had an opportunity to share that moment with the team. That's a special thing."

According to Tomlin, Shazier doesn't just get excited about Steelers games, he also wants to know what he's been missing in practice.  

"I go see him and he wants to talk about the game plan," Tomlin said this week. "He wants to talk about how the guys are doing. He wants to talk specifically about what's transpiring in practice settings and so forth. That's Ryan."

CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported over the weekend that team officials are hopeful that Shazier "can make a full recovery." With the linebacker now in rehab, he's taken one step closer to making that recovery a reality. 

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

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