Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier had spinal stabilization surgery Wednesday, the team announced Thursday.
Dr. Anthony Alessi, a neurologist who consults with the NFLPA, told Michele Steele of ESPN.com that Shazier "may not play football again" and that this surgery indicates "this is a much more severe situation on our hands than we thought." Alessi added that surgery would be needed when bones around the spine are dislocated and that this injury is more severe than a contusion, according to Steele.
Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports that Shazier will need months of recovery "before he considers a return to football."
Shazier has been in the hospital since injuring his spine in Pittsburgh's Monday night win over the Bengals. The team initially said he would not require surgery.
Shazier was injured early in game after hitting Bengals receiver Josh Malone with the crown of his helmet. He went down to the ground and immediately reached for his back after the hit.
Shazier is staying in Cincinnati at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center until Wednesday when he was moved to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center where he is now.
Shazier, 25, was a first round pick by the Steelers in 2014. He was a Pro Bowler last season and is leading Pittsburgh in tackles this year.