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Ryan Shazier and C.J. Mosley: A different rivalry

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One has battled nagging injuries and is now fighting to regain his starting position, while the other is an emerging star. Ryan Shazier and C.J. Mosley will share the field on Sunday with much more than personal gains on the line.

Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers and Ravens each spent a first round draft selection on a talented inside linebacker in the 2014 NFL Draft, Pittsburgh taking Ohio State's Ryan Shazier with the 15th pick and Baltimore opting for C.J. Mosley from Alabama with the 17th pick.  From that day on, a lifelong rivalry was forged, as two of the biggest rivals in football  effectively created a vortex in which the careers of both Shazier and Mosley would be compared to one another for the duration of their time in the NFL.

With that point in mind, the sad truth is there hasn't been much of a rivalry so far.  Shazier, despite displaying an unparalleled combinations of speed and strength, has yet to be a factor, missing eight games this season due to various, nagging injuries, and hasn't started a game since Week 3.  Mosley, on the other hand, had a Pro Bowl season, as the tackling machine's career trajectory seems to be pointing straight up.  In fact, it's fair to say many Steelers fans have likely been frustrated with Shazier.  It's not fair because injuries happen, but Mosley's success makes Shazier's shortcomings even tougher to swallow.

Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons having excellent season.

Fortunately, Shazier is only 22-years old.  He's got a full career still to play, and he's certainly physically gifted enough to turn into a star linebacker.  Even better for him, he has a chance to one up his inter-divisional line-backing rival Mosley by winning a playoff game.

Although Shazier has platooned the last several weeks with Sean Spence and Vince Williams, the coaching staff recognizes the Ohio State product's usefulness in the defense, but admit it's difficult to work him back in.  Mike Tomlin has acknowledged the success of Spence and Williams are a big factor in preventing Shazier to dominate the snaps with Lawrence Timmons, as was the plan back during training camp, according to Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Shazier admits the season has been rough, but claims "he's as happy as he's ever been...because the team is winning."  With a trip to the divisional playoff on the line, a good game from Shazier might be all he needs to one-up Mosley and the Ravens.