When the Ravens gathered Wednesday morning as they continue preparing for Sunday night's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, they opened their team meeting by praying for one of the Steelers, injured linebacker Ryan Shazier.
"Our thoughts are with him. Our prayers are with him," Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh told the media. In a frightening incident on national television, Shazier was injured while making a tackle early in the Steelers' game against the Cincinnati Bengals Monday night. After his head collided with a Cincinnati receiver's thigh, he fell to the ground and was placed on a backboard, carted off the field and transferred to a hospital amid concerns that he'd suffered major neurological damage.
"You just pray for a person like that. You never want to see that happen to anybody. It doesn't matter what team he's on," Ravens receiver Mike Wallace said. "We're one family, the NFL family, at the end of the day. That's a person who's a son, a dad, whatever he is to somebody. People like him and care about him so you never want to see anything like that happen to anybody."
Shazier, 25, is a fourth-year player from Ohio State who made the Pro Bowl in 2016. He leads the Steelers in tackles by a wide margin this year.
His teammates returned to Pittsburgh after the Steelers rallied to beat the Bengals Monday night, but Shazier remains hospitalized in Cincinnati with what doctors have initially called a spinal concussion, with some swelling involved.
On Tuesday, Shazier tweeted his thanks for the outpouring of support he has received, but offered no update on his condition.
"It's scary. I feel for him and his family and teammates," Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco said. "At the same time, I always say it, this is a different sport. Every time we go out there on the field, you take a lot of risk. You understand what the consequences are for playing this game.
"But man, I feel for his teammates and his family. I can't imagine what they're going through."
Harbaugh said the Ravens collectively prayed for Shazier's health and well-being Wednesday morning.
"Great respect for him and for the players that play in this league," Harbaugh said.
Several Ravens players expressed concern and support for Shazier, including linebackers C.J. Mosley and Terrell Suggs. Mosley, who entered the NFL in the same draft class as Shazier and has trained with him in the offseason, texted Pittsburgh's linebacker Tuesday to check on him.
The Ravens and Steelers are among the NFL's fiercest rivals. They'll meet for the second time this season Sunday night in Pittsburgh.
"We said a prayer for him and he plays for the Steelers, so you know it's bigger than football," Wallace said. "It's about a person, his self, just hoping he has his health and is able to walk and play again ultimately, but first and foremost, we want him to be healthy."