Pittsburgh Steelers rookie linebacker Ryan Shazier is back in pads but the “boo-boo” that he suffered way back on August 3rd is still preventing him from fully participating in practice.
“I’m trying to get back on the field as fast as possible,” Shazier said Monday, according to Scott Brown of ESPN.com. “I’m going to continue to work and do whatever I can to help this team.”
According to the Wednesday evening practice report filed by our very own Alex Kozora, Shazier was limited to just doing individual team drills once again and thus not permitted to take part in any contact related activities once the team began scrimmaging the Buffalo Bills. Kozora also stated that the Steelers first-round draft pick was running at about half speed Wednesday and that he was being very cautious.
The Steelers will close out their training camp practices Thursday with another scrimmage against the Bills and it won’t be surprising if Shazier isn’t allowed to fully participate once again. Should that wind up being the case, you have then wonder if he’ll be allowed to play in the teams second preseason game Saturday night at Heinz Field against the Bills.
With Shazier currently sidelined, Sean Spence is manning the starting mack linebacker spot alongside Lawrence Timmons and he appears to be handling the job well. In the preseason opener against the New York Giants, Spence played 17 snaps as the starter and registered three total tackles in his first game back since suffering a serious knee injury “boo-boo” nearly two full years ago. Should Shazier not be a go against the Bills, the Miami product should get the start once again.
Ever since the first day of OTA practices it’s been a foregone conclusion that Shazier would be the starting mack linebacker when the Steelers host the Cleveland Browns in the regular season opener. The longer the Ohio State product remains limited with his “boo-boo”, however, the more you have to wonder if Spence might be slowly earning the right to begin the season as the starter instead.
While the above scenario can certainly be deemed an overreaction, it’s plausible because we still don’t really know the severity of Shazier’s “boo-boo”. More than anything else, at least the Steelers appear to have two players that can handle the starting job. There’s still more than three weeks left until the Browns game and hopefully Shazier’s “boo-boo” is fully healed way before then so that he can get valuable preseason playing time as well.