Steelers’ Shazier: ‘Your best ability is availability’

8 Jul


Ryan Shazier plays football like an avalanche, swallowing ball carriers with unseen swiftness. When the Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker diagnoses a play he’s the fastest man to the ball and one of the few that can knife through offensive linemen with the same deftness he covers running backs.

The issue for Shazier has never been ability. It’s been availability. The 24-year-old has missed 14 games in three seasons, never playing more than 13 games in a single year.



“I just want to have a full year in general just for myself,” Shazier said, via ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. “I feel like I have the capability of being one of the best players in the NFL. People can’t really see what I can do when I’m not on the field. Your best ability is availability.”

When he’s been on the field for long stretches of the season, Shazier has been one of the deadliest second-level defenders. His 2015 postseason game versus the Cincinnati Bengals — 13 tackles, two passes defended, two forced fumbles — was one of the best performances you will see from a linebacker.

Shazier didn’t have injury problems at Ohio State but has dealt with knee, shoulder and ankle problems among his NFL issues. Playing a full season could vault the linebacker into the Defensive Player of the Year reality.

“[Playing a full season] would just show my consistency of being able to be a playmaker for this team, cause turnovers, get the offense back the ball, show people in the league that I can be a dynamic player,” Shazier said.

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