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Ryan Shazier undergoes spinal stabilization surgery

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier underwent spinal stabilization surgery Wednesday night to address his spinal injury suffered this week, the team announced Thursday.

The surgery was conducted by University of Pittsburgh Medical Center neurosurgeons and team physicians Drs. David Okonkwo and Joseph Maroon.

Shazier returned to Pittsburgh and started receiving medical treatment for the injury at a UPMC facility on Wednesday.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Thursday that Shazier's surgery will necessitate months of recovery before a return to football is considered.

"From what I am told by several sources informed of this situation, the recovery that would be associated with the spinal stabilization surgery would take months, three or four or maybe even five or six, just before Ryan Shazier even considers playing football again or his future," Rapoport reported on TNF First Look. "But understand, this is a very serious situation for Ryan Shazier. We don't know much, if anything, about his football playing future. We do know that his 2017 season is over, and he remains hospitalized in Pittsburgh as he recovers from spinal stabilization surgery."

"All I am is hopeful that he gets well," Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler said Thursday, via NFL Network's Aditi Kinkhabwala. "I'm not worried about him playing for us again. I'm more worried about him ... the football stuff is secondary. His life is a lot more important to me than football."

Shazier suffered the scary spinal injury after his head collided with Cincinnati Bengals receiver Josh Malone's thigh in the Steelers' 23-20 win Monday night. The linebacker was placed on a backboard and carted off the field before being transported to a Cincinnati area hospital. Steelers owner Art Rooney II, coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert visited Shazier in the hospital after the game.

"Ryan is a legitimate leader," Tomlin said when talking to reporters Tuesday. "He was asking about the guys, Vince [Williams] particularly. I told him about the guys, we talked about how the game unfolded and some of those things -- normal conversations. Not only is he a mentally tough guy but he's a guy who is spiritually in a great place and I know that is an asset to him and his family."

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