June 6, 2018 / 9:44 PM / in 9 months

Steelers linebacker Shazier says he still hopes to return in first press conference

Ryan Shazier won’t play in 2018, but the Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker said Wednesday he still hopes to return someday.

Jan 17, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (88) is tackled by Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Stephon Tuitt (91) and inside linebacker Ryan Shazier (50) during the fourth quarter of the AFC Divisional round playoff game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports / Reuters Picture Supplied by Action Images

“My dream is to come back and play football again,” Shazier said. “I’ve been working my tail off every single day, so I have that in the back of my mind every single time I go to rehab. I just try to stay positive every day, so I’m just trying to do everything I can to get back.”

Shazier made the comments at his first Steelers press conference since suffering a devastating spinal contusion in Week 13 last season.

Shazier suffered the injury during Monday Night Football against the Cincinnati Bengals on Dec. 4 and had spinal stablilization surgery three days later. One month after the injury and with Shazier still hospitalized, his father told WPXI-Pittsburgh on Jan. 4 that his son was improving and had regained feeling in his legs.

Six months later, he continues to improve.

“They feel like I’m doing a lot better than they expected,” Shazier says of medical professionals tracking his progress now.

“One of the things I’m looking forward to doing is I just want to be able to start walking a little bit more by myself without using a cane,” Shazier said of his immediate goals. “And if that’s camp, I’m happy for it. If it’s the regular season, I’ll be happy for it.”

His football career is an uncertainty, but Shazier has said he plans to get back on the field.

In one of the moving moments from the 2018 NFL Draft, Shazier, who has been wheelchair bound but able to stand on his own power recently, walked across the stage with his fiancee to announce Pittsburgh’s first-round pick.

The 25-year-old was first ruled out for the 2018 season by general manager Kevin Colbert in February. The team made it official by placing him on the physically unable to perform list in early May.

—Field Level Media

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