Shazier injury leaves Lions players shaken

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Allen Park — Lions offensive tackle Taylor Decker couldn’t help but utter an expletive when Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier clutched his lower back, rolled over and couldn’t get up after making a tackle Monday night.

“Obviously, super scary situation,” Decker said. “Right after the play, you don’t see guys react like that very often. And anything spinal cord and neck-related are scary, that’s not something where you’re not able to play a football game next week, that’s life stuff.”

Shazier had to be carted off with a spinal injury, the extent of which remains unknown. On Wednesday, he was transferred from Cincinnati to a Pittsburgh-area hospital, where he will continue to undergo testing and treatment.

Decker and Shazier spent two years together at Ohio State. Decker said his former teammate was the guy who got along with everyone. He also said it wasn’t surprising to hear Shazier, at the hospital, was asking how his young backup had performed.

“The guy is obviously a freak of nature, obviously a great player, but he’s well liked because he cares about other people,” Decker said.

Spinal injuries are rare, but tend to happen in the open field, not in the trenches. Decker, who is coming off a shoulder surgery that sidelined him several months, said he never thinks about the possibility of suffering something that could end his career.

Lions linebacker Nick Bellore acknowledged that risk is always in the back of his mind. He does his best to play with sound fundamentals, especially keeping his head up when making tackles, but notes the speed of the game sometimes leads to unintended mistakes.

“It’s an unfortunate part of what we do,” Bellore said. “Especially for significant others. We hear it from them, a lot. My wife saw (the Shazier injury). It’s tough, but it’s what we signed up for and it’s obviously dangerous.”