Steelers see role for Ryan Shazier on team in 2018

Ryan Shazier is still recovering from a spinal injury he suffered in December, but the Pittsburgh Steelers see the linebacker continuing to be part of their organization moving forward.

"I expect Ryan is going to be here one way or the other and have a role on the team one way or other in 2018," Steelers owner Art Rooney II said Thursday, per Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The fourth-year pro, who received a standing ovation Tuesday night at a Pittsburgh Penguins game, was discharged from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Rehabilitation Institute last week and is transitioning into an outpatient therapy program, the hospital announced.

Shazier suffered a scary, season-ending spinal injury in December during Pittsburgh's Week 13 win over the Bengals. The 25-year-old Pro Bowler underwent spinal stabilization surgery, which is expected to require months of rehab.

Shazier's father, Vernon Shazier, shared in January that his son had regained feeling in his legs, but declined to comment on whether Ryan was walking again. On Sunday, Shazier confirmed a report by NBC Sports sideline reporter Michele Tafoya that stated he still needs to use a walker or be assisted by others as part of his rehab walking program.

He spent time at the team facility in January, observing practice, sitting in for meetings and watching his teammates finish a campaign that ended with Pittsburgh's loss to the Jaguars in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs.