Ryan Shazier
Ryan Shazier is making progress during his rehabilitation, his father said. Getty Images

Pittsburg Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier is making "encouraging" progress during rehabilitation, his father Vernon said, according to ESPN Thursday.

"We have seen some improvement that is encouraging," Vernon told ESPN. "We're taking it one day at a time. We do not know what tomorrow holds. It's a [daily] journey we don't know. But I know God is getting the message."

Shazier, 25, underwent spinal stabilization surgery Dec. 4 to repair an injury suffered against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 13 during a tackle. Shazier appeared at Heinz Field for Sunday's game against the New England Patriots, his first trip since he was hospitalized.

"We’re praying for healing and keeping our mind and faith strong," Vernon said. "We know we’re in a deep valley, but we do not feel alone. It’s easy to be faithful in a storm, but we’re not talking about a drizzle. We’re talking about a hurricane, a category 5 [hurricane], lots of metaphors to describe it."

Vernon, an NFL chaplain, acknowledged support his family received from fans. Shazier was honored with a Pro Bowl nod Tuesday for his efforts during the 2017-18 season. Over 12 games, Shazier made 89 tackles, two forced fumble and three interceptions.

"You've got little kids that are praying for him. He has over a million people praying for him," Vernon said. "It's coming from so many different sources. I got an email from a kid who has a medical issue, where Ryan has touched his heart. You have kids wishing Ryan gets better for Christmas. It's keeping us up."