Career in limbo, Shazier helping in other ways
PITTSBURGH — At least one portion of Ryan Shazier’s daily routine hasn’t changed much from the previous time the Pittsburgh Steelers were preparing to face Cincinnati, even if the rest of the injured linebacker’s life is hardly the same.
Shazier still makes his way to the club’s practice facility around 7 a.m. most days. Any teammate willing to drop by Shazier’s usual spot can feel free to pull out a notebook and start jotting Shazier’s thoughts while he serves as both peer and professor.
“He’s just trying to find little nitpick things,” Pittsburgh rookie safety Terrell Edmunds said.
It is Shazier’s way of staying connected to the game even as he continues his long and inspiring recovery from that frightening moment last December when the Pro Bowler lowered his helmet to hit Bengals wide receiver Josh Malone late in the first quarter, a play that ended with Shazier clutching his lower back in agony while players knelt around him in prayer and Paul Brown Stadium feel eerily silent.
Ten months later, the sight of Shazier being taken off the field on a stretcher before being placed in an ambulance remains fresh as the Steelers (2-2-1) brace themselves for their annual visit to Cincinnati (4-1) on Sunday.
“It was just a really weird feeling after that happened,” Pittsburgh linebacker L.J. Fort said. “You’d make a good play but nobody was really jumping around or was excited or anything like that, so it was really sobering moment and brought to the forefront that football is not the most important thing in life.”
Playing amid a mixture of fear for their friend and uncertainty over Shazier’s status, the Steelers rallied for a 23-20 victory.
Asked how they managed to recover emotionally in time to put Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown hugs Ryan Shazier before a preseason game against the Green Bay Packers. Ten months after sustaining a spinal injury that threatened his career, the former Ohio State linebacker is thriving as a de facto coach.
together a stirring rally, they’re still not sure. In the immediate aftermath of Shazier’s injury there was only chaos and confusion.
Outside linebacker Bud Dupree admitted he and inside linebacker Vince Williams — two of Shazier’s closest friends
on the team — were under the impression Shazier had been blindsided by a member of the Bengals. The two spent the rest of the first half looking for revenge.
“We were just walking around trying (to hit) the first person we see,” Dupree said. “We weren’t
worried about football. We wanted to take up for our brother.”
CHIEFS SIGN EX-BROWNS LB ORCHARD: Nate Orchard has gone from a highly drafted pick of the Cleveland Browns to a featured star on HBO’s documentary series “Hard Knocks” to the couch as an unemployed linebacker in the NFL. Now, he’s suiting up for a team with Super Bowl aspirations. Orchard signed with the Kansas City Chiefs on Wednesday to shore up their pass rush besieged by injuries. Justin Houston could miss several weeks after hurting his hamstring in last Sunday’s win over Jacksonville while Dee Ford and Tanoh Kpassagnon have been dealing with nagging injuries.
‘SMALL CHANCE’ JETS’ RODGERS RETURNS SUNDAY: New York Jets defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers briefly returned to the team’s facility, and coach Todd Bowles says there’s a “small chance” he coaches against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. Rodgers is dealing with what Bowles characterized last week as a “serious” illness. The 49-year-old assistant coach wasn’t with the team last Sunday for its 34-16 win over Denver.