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Steelers players thrilled by Ryan Shazier’s ‘first down’ visit to practice

Ryan Shazier on Thursday was present at a Pittsburgh Steelers practice for the first time since suffering a horrific spinal injury during a Dec. 4 game. And it should go without saying that Shazier’s teammates were absolutely thrilled to see him.

Steelers players of course have been visiting Shazier regularly. But to have him back at the team’s facility obviously made for an emotional moment.

“It means a lot. He’s so special to us,” said linebacker Anthony Chickillo of having Shazier at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, per “He is our brother, he is our friend. We love that guy to death. It’s motivating to have him out there. He has been through a lot, going through a lot. He wants to be out there with us. That is all that is on his mind. When you see him, you know how much he loves football and wants to be out there for us. You just want to go hard for him. You just want to win for him.”

Shazier posted a image on Instagram of himself in a wheelchair on the sideline, in which he shared an incredibly inspirational message. The linebacker referred to his visit to practice as “first down” and that the “touchdown” in this scenario is on the horizon.

“He said that on the sideline,” said linebacker Bud Dupree. “He said each step is a first down and he is going to keep getting first downs until he gets in the end zone. We are going to be with him along the whole way. It’s great to know we are making a difference to him too.

“Just being here. He was smiling as soon as we saw him rolling in. We were chatting with him on the sideline. He is still the same guy, the person we know him as. He is still one of the best people in the world.”

The latest reports concerning Shazier’s recovery have been positive. Shazier’s father Vernon provided an encouraging update on his son last week in a report that also indicated Shazier has recovered feeling in his legs.