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Pittsburgh – Injured Pittsburgh Steelers Ryan Shazier doesn’t just plan to play again following a spinal injury. He says he wants to make it all the way to the Hall of Fame.

Shazier opened up to teammate Roosevelt Nix on Nix’s podcast, Shazier’s first public comments since injuring his spine in a victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Dec. 4.

Shazier told Nix that he plans to walk again on his own and return to a career that was on the verge of stardom before the injury, one that required spinal stabilization surgery and left him in the hospital for two months.

“I’m really trying to come back and still be a Pro Bowler,” Shazier told Nix. “I’m sorry, because I feel I got snubbed this year for All-Pro even though I got hurt. But I feel like my stats are as good as those who made it.”

The 25-year-old is undergoing outpatient therapy and has documented a portion of his recovery on social media. General manager Kevin Colbert said last week Shazier has been a fixture at the team’s headquarters watching film. Shazier said it’s necessary to keep him mentally sharp while aggressively attacking his rehab.

“I’ve got to get back,” said Shazier, who has not released the exact nature of the injury. “Right now I’m reading a book and it’s basically saying trust the process. I’m really trusting the process. I know the end goal. So I’m taking every step of the way, I’m giving everything I got. The therapists are like, ‘Man this is crazy; I’ve never seen anyone work this hard.’ They almost see progression every day.”

Shazier has been vague about specific aspects of his recovery, though he is quick to point out that he can stand on his own, as he did when the cameras cut to him recently while attending a Pittsburgh Penguins game.

“I’m still reaching for that Hall of Fame because I really feel I’m the best linebacker ever,” Shazier said. “I just got to be back out there so everybody can see it. You know what I’m saying?”

Extra points

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck ruled out additional surgery and said he’s eager to play football after spending the last 13 months rehabbing from shoulder surgery. If all goes well, the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback might even return in time for the start of April’s offseason workouts.

... The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have hired former NFL player Brentson Buckner as defensive line coach. Buckner spent the past five seasons as defensive line coach for the Arizona Cardinals. They had 203 sacks during his tenure – tied for the seventh-most in the NFL.

... Marty Hurney will be calling the shots once again with the Carolina Panthers. Carolina re-hired Hurney as its general manager on Wednesday, marking his second full-time stint as general manager. The Panthers finished 11-5 last year.

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