Ryan Shazier 'submerged' in rehab, helping Steelers LBs

PITTSBURGH -- Since that impressive walk on-stage during the NFL draft, Ryan Shazier has remained busy behind the scenes as part of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

He won't be on the field due to spinal stabilization surgery. The team has placed him on the Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform list while paying his $8.7 million salary up front.

That won't stop Shazier from remaining active in an unofficial coaching/motivational role.

'Still submerged' in rehab: Shazier still gets so much support mail from those inspired by his story that the local mailman told the family he must make extra trips to fit it all in the box, said Vernon Shazier, Ryan's father.

The family is grateful for the love but can't respond to it all, largely because because Shazier's days are stocked with rehab.

"We're still submerged in the situation," Vernon said.

Many days, Shazier gets up early, heads to the facility for workouts and meetings, followed by therapy and treatment. The work is tough but keeps Shazier connected.

Shazier is able to drive a car when necessary but often opts for a ride to focus on his rehab.

Shazier intensely practiced for his draft-day walk, which Vernon called a "gripping moment," reminding how far he's come, even if the walk was a bit longer than the family expected.

Vernon's prayer for his son has remained the same: walking without assistance, followed by full recovery.

"(God's) big enough that that’s not too big of a task," Vernon said.

Coach Shazier: Shazier watched last week's organized team activities from a golf cart and even sniffed out plays from Ben Roethlisberger.

Tight end Jesse James has seen Shazier spending extended time with the linebackers, walking younger players through the scheme.

The two-time Pro Bowl inside linebacker is logging plenty of hours this offseason.

"He’s always around. He’s in meetings, I see him working in the training room, working in the weight room," James said. "Just taking it one day at a time, doing his thing, helping the team as much as he can.”

Vernon calls this "finding a way to lead other than making tackles."

Working with kids: Earlier in May, Shazier and James co-hosted more than 300 kids as part of the Hyundai Youth Football Camp, where James saw his teammate in his element.

Shazier was standing up for much of the camp, providing pointers during drills.

“He’s always an uplifting and positive guy, so it was awesome to see him out in the community," James said. "He was chirping a little bit, talking, he was trying to find the big kids to organize races."

Shazier has spent much of his offseason in Pittsburgh, which "has supported me tremendously," he told Steelers.com during the camp.