Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier on Wednesday attended his first practice since suffering a serious spinal injury early last month.
Shazier, who was at the Steelers' practice facility in a wheelchair, posted a photo and a message on his Instagram account, calling his visit a "first down" in his progress.
"I was finally able to make it to practice with my teammates. It's great to be back for practices and meetings. Just to be able to feel a part of it means the world. So I'm working harder than I ever have to get back. I've been making strides over the past month and continue to make progress. Taking it day-by-day, but I'm far from done," wrote Shazier as part of the message.
Shazier was injured on Dec. 4 in a game against the Cincinnati Bengals. He was hurt as he tried to tackle Bengals wide receiver Josh Malone.
The two-time Pro Bowl selection hit Malone low with his shoulder pads, then immediately reached for his back while his legs remained motionless.
Shazier underwent spinal stabilization surgery two days later and remained in a University of Pittsburgh Medical Center facility for rehabilitation. He has attended Steelers games while watching from a suite at Heinz Field.
Last week, Shazier's father, Vernon, told a Pittsburgh television station that his son was making progress daily and expressed optimism that he would eventually return to the playing field.
In his Instagram post, Ryan Shazier expressed his gratitude to Pittsburgh fans for their support during his ordeal.
"I want to say thank you to the fans and Steelers Nation for the prayers. If it wasn't for my family, friends and your prayers I wouldn't be where I am now. They have lifted me and my family through this journey and I ask for you to continue praying for me, as I continue to work daily on improving my health," he wrote.
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