Steelers' Mike Tomlin: Ryan Shazier still wants to game-plan from his hospital bed

Ryan Shazier's season officially ended on Tuesday when the Steelers placed him on injured reserve with a brutal back injury that required spinal stabilization surgery. But that won't stop Shazier from helping his team win football games this season.

On Tuesday, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin revealed that whenever he goes to visit Shazier in the hospital, all Shazier wants to do is talk about the Steelers.

"I go see him and he wants to talk about the game plan," he said, per ESPN's Jeremy Fowler. "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."

Before suffering the horrifying injury against the Bengals on Dec. 4, which required him to be stretched off the field and taken directly to the hospital, Shazier served as one of the Steelers' most important players. Since 2015, Shazier has 178 solo tackles, seven sacks and seven interceptions. The Steelers will undoubtedly miss him as they pursue the top seed in the AFC and, ultimately, a trip to the Super Bowl. But as Tomlin's anecdote above indicates, Shazier will remain involved with the team down the stretch.

At this point, Shazier's future in football is secondary. What matters is that his life isn't impacted severely by the injury. On Sunday, CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported that team officials are "hopeful he can make a full recovery." 

From La Canfora's report:

Doctors will not be able to make a more exact determination of the extent of his injuries until after swelling dissipates, sources said, but there remains every expectation Shazier will be able to walk and lead a normal life. The surgery he underwent back in Pittsburgh was a procedure doctors initially thought might be required on Monday night, when he was rushed to the hospital from the stadium. He remains in good spirits.

After the Steelers knocked off the Ravens on Sunday night and captured the AFC North crown, they celebrated the win with Shazier via FaceTime.

"Unfortunately Ryan will not be able to contribute on the field during the remainder of this season," Steelers President Art Rooney II said on Tuesday. "However, even off the field Ryan will continue to be one of our team leaders. We know his spirit and positive outlook will help him to continue in his recovery, as well as serve as an inspiration to our team."

CBS Sports Writer

Sean Wagner-McGough joined CBS Sports in 2015 after graduating from UC Berkeley. A native of Seattle, Sean now resides in the Bay Area. He spends his spare time defending Jay Cutler on Twitter. Full Bio

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