Ryan Shazier
Ryan Shazier was injured while taking on the Cincinnati Bengals during the first half at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio, Dec. 4, 2017. Getty Images

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier is showing "signs of improvement" Sunday after undergoing spinal stabilization surgery on his injured back this week, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported.

"Doctors are controlling and limiting his movement as they wait for the swelling and bruising in his back to subside," Schefter wrote, adding that Shazier’s career is likely over.

The Steelers aren’t focused on whether he’ll play again but are more concerned about his "short- and long-term health."

Shazier had the surgical procedure Wednesday at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center facility after he was transported from a Cincinnati hospital. Team physicians David Okonkwo and Joseph Maroon, who developed the NFL’s ImPACT concussion testing program, operated on Shazier. ESPN’s Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported Thursday that he will need "months of recovery."

The 25-year-old suffered the injury during the Steelers 23-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals Monday night. He led the Steelers' defense this season with 89 tackles, three interceptions, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.

The news of Shazier’s injury sent shockwaves around the Steelers organization. During Sunday’s game against the Baltimore Ravens, many of his teammates will wear customized cleats with the message "Shalieve," a term Shazier coined on social media last week.

"I’m not worried about him playing for us again, I’m more worried about him," defensive coordinator Keith Butler told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Thursday. "Y’all have been updated as much as we have. The thing that we’re hopeful for and prayerful for is that he comes back and he’ll be OK. The football stuff is secondary. His life is a lot more important to me than football."

The Steelers plan to supplement the left inside linebacker spot with both veteran linebacker Arthur Moats and Sean Spence, whom the team signed as a free agent Tuesday.