Ryan Shazier is making one-handed catches 20 months after serious spine injury

Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier stands on the sidelines during a preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Aug. 9 in Pittsburgh.
(Keith Srakocic / Associated Press)

Only 20 months ago, a national TV audience watched in shock as Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier suffered a serious spine injury that left him writhing on the ground with no movement in his legs.

On Sunday, Shazier displayed the remarkable progress he’s made in a relatively short period of time before another prime time game.

The Pro Bowl linebacker was injured Dec. 4, 2017, during a “Monday Night Football” game against the Cincinnati Bengals. He has remained upbeat — and extremely active — from the beginning of his rehabilitation.


Shazier watched his teammates play the New England Patriots from a Heinz Field suite less than two weeks after the injury occurred, posted a photo of himself standing with his arm around Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on Feb. 1, 2018, and six days later responded to a standing ovation by fans at a Pittsburgh Penguins game by standing up on his own.

Two months after that, Shazier walked onstage with then-fiancee Michelle Rodriguez to announce the Steelers’ first-round pick of the 2018 draft. A year later, he was doing box jumps as part of his workout routine. Later that spring, he and Rodriguez danced at their wedding reception.

And this week, Shazier was casually catching passes — some of them one-handed — while walking around on Heinz Field before the Steelers’ “Sunday Night Football” preseason game against the Tennessee Titans. It was an incredible sight considering where he was less than two years ago.

Shazier has already been declared out for the season. But at this point, his goals of playing football once again and eventually becoming a Hall of Famer don’t seem all that far-fetched.