Pittsburgh fans had to wait an extra week to see first-round draft pick Ryan Shazier in a Steelers uniform, as a knee bruise kept him out of the preseason opener. But Shazier was on the field Saturday night for the Steelers’ second preseason game, and it was worth the wait.
Shazier had 11 solo tackles, a pass defensed and an interception that he returned 27 yards, and afterward Shazier said he was pleased to be able to do in live action what he always believed he could do when he got to the NFL.
“I’m just excited to be back out on the field,” said Shazier, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Just to be out there and show everyone what I can do. You’re always nervous your first game. The NFL was the dream of my life. I finally got the opportunity to do it.”
Shazier’s teammates were impressed with what they saw.
“His pass coverage is awesome,” inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons said. “You saw the tackles; he was making tackles left and right. He has the pedigree. He has all the talent and the intangibles you want in an inside linebacker.”
Added defensive end Cam Heyward, “He’s an athletic guy who’s very fast. We keep working with him, by season’s start, we’ll expect a lot from him. Playing that position, he’s going to make a lot of plays.”
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Shazier looked in the game the same way he has looked in practice.
“I thought he did some good things,” Tomlin said. “But not unlike what he’s done when he’s worked from the instant he’s got here he’s proven that it’s not too big for him. So I can’t tell you that I’m surprised by his effort tonight, I’m not.”
No one should be surprised if Shazier provides a spark to the Steelers’ defense this season.