Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier’s NFL career could be over after he underwent spinal stabilization surgery on Wednesday at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. In an update provided by Steelers director of communications Burt Lauten, the team said the linebacker underwent the procedure to address the spinal injury that he suffered in their 23-20 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. According to Ian Rapoport‏ of the NFL Network, Shazier is facing "months of recovery" before considering his NFL future. In addition, neurologist Dr.

Anthony Alessi told Michele Steele‏ of ESPN that the linebacker “may not play football again.” Alessi admitted that Shazier's situation was more than severe than they initially thought. Shazier suffered the back injury after his head collided with Bengals receiver Josh Malone's thigh. The Steelers linebacker was down on the field for several minutes before was carted off the field on a stretcher.

Conversation with Shazier ‘normal’

Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin revealed his conversation with Shazier during his visit, calling it “strangely normal.” Tomlin called Ryan mentally tough and a guy who's in a great place spiritually. Tomlin said Shazier's positive outlook will be an asset to him and his family as he recovers from the devastating injury.

The 25-year-old Florida native took to social media to thank people for their support in this crucial time. “Thank you for the prayers. Your support is uplifting to me and my family. #SHALIEVE,” he tweeted. The Steelers picked Shazier 15th overall in the 2014 NFL Draft out of Ohio State. Last season, he earned his first Pro Bowl selection.

Shazier’s request to Steelers: Beat Ravens

According to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, Shazier urged the Steelers to beat the Baltimore Ravens in their Week 14 clash at Heinz Field. Fowler said Shazier relayed that message to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who visited the linebacker. In Thursday’s practice, wide receiver Antonio Brown and cornerback Joe Haden did not participate due to a swollen toe and injured fibula, respectively.

Linebacker Tyler Matakevich also did not practice due to a shoulder issue. Linebacker TJ Watt was limited in practice due to a knee problem while safety Mike Mitchell and tight end Vance McDonald participated fully in practice despite having ankle issues. In their win over the Bengals, Brown caught eight passes for 101 yards and a touchdown.