On the first drive of Monday Night Football’s contest between the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers, the Steel City’s young linebacker Ryan Shazier suffered what appeared to be a very serious injury to his back.

As he dove in for a tackle against Bengals wide receiver Josh Malone, Shazier immediately reached for his lower back following the play. Visibly in pain, he squeezed his hands but showed no movement in his legs. This sent medical crews scrambling for the backboard, to which they strapped on the linebacker and carted him off to prevent any further damage.

Shazier was subsequently taken to the hospital where he spent the night in Cincinnati. Though there was no indication regarding his health initially, reports from after the game began to grant relief to fans and viewers alike.

Kevin Colbert, Pittsburgh’s General Manager and Vice President, released an official statement early Tuesday morning to update everyone on the former first round pick’s condition.

“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. Ryan’s injury will not require surgery at this time, and he continues to improve. He will stay overnight to continue evaluations with the hopes of returning to Pittsburgh on Tuesday. We will provide further updates at the appropriate time,” the statement read.

Coach Mike Tomlin, unaware at the time of Shazier’s status, commented on the impact the injury had on the team. “This is a tough game, tough business,” he said. “5-0 (Shazier) is our brother.”

Many analysts familiar with the situation have compared the incident to Tommy Maddox’s injury back in 2002 when the former Steeler quarterback suffered a spinal cord concussion, which miraculously only forced him to miss a single game.

The 25-year-old linebacker has had a promising start to his career, earning a Pro Bowl nod last season and picking up where he left off in 2017, earning himself two forced fumbles and three interceptions so far this year. Tyler Matakevich is expected to replace Shazier as the starter next week, although he too left the game with a minor injury in the second half. For now, all focus will be on Shazier’s recovery considering the severity of the situation.

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