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Debut of Ryan Shazier worth the wait for all

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The news that Steelers 1st round pick Ryan Shazier would play on Saturday vs Buffalo didn't officially come until about 4 hours before kickoff. After just one quarter of play, everybody, including the author of this article came away nothing short of speechless.

Steelers rookie LB Ryan Shazier tracks down Buffalo Bills TE Scott Chandler during the clubs 19-16 win Saturday at Heinz Field
Steelers rookie LB Ryan Shazier tracks down Buffalo Bills TE Scott Chandler during the clubs 19-16 win Saturday at Heinz Field
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

So much for that bruised knee.

After missing last week's pre season game vs. the New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers 1st round pick Ryan Shazier finally got to suit up and play some football vs. the Buffalo Bills.  To say his debut was a success would be an understatement.


After just one quarter of play, the rookie had managed to make four tackles on defense, one on special teams and to top the sundae, he snared an E.J. Manuel pass that was intended for tight end Scott Chandler by simply racing down the burly would be pass catcher and picked off the ball, returning it 27 yards to set up the Steelers 2nd touchdown of the quarter.

Even Superman was impressed.

And why not.  Shazier was everything as advertised, ending his night with a total of nine tackles, leading the team in that category.  Shazier expressed his satisfaction to reporters after the game regarding his night's work.

"It's definitely exciting. First of all, I'm just excited to be back out on the field, to be back out there with my teammates. I missed the last game. So, it's nice to just be back out here and show everybody what I can do and to get ready for the season."

His level of play showed no indication his injury was even slightly hampering his mobility.  In short, he was the dominant player on the field the club needed him to be.

'I felt great out there,' said Shazier afterwards to reporters. "The coaches called man (defense).I just played a technique that they've been teaching us. When I looked back, I noticed that the ball was in the air. I just took advantage of my opportunity."

And so did the Steelers, as the club would use the short field to set up a 2nd Ben Roethlisberger TD pass to give the team a 13-3 lead.  It those kinds of plays this defense has sorely missed over the past few seasons.  Its a big reason Shazier was drafted and moved to ILB in an effort to create such plays.

Seems that plan is working after just one game and it's Shazier's speed that's the trigger for it.

"The way that defense is set up, I'm supposed to be back short of (the WR) anyway. So, I just played it like I'm supposed to."

Keep playing that way kid and all should work out fine.

John Phillips is a radio personality for 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh and a columnist for Behind The Steel Curtain. Check him out on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.