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Ryan Shazier Injury: Return to practice could equate to return to playing field

The Steelers' defense needs a spark, and that spark could be rookie Ryan Shazier. Shazier has missed the last three games with a knee injury but was back on the practice field Wednesday with the starting defense.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Although the Pittsburgh Steelers won't release an official injury report until after Thursday's practice, the team got some good news on the injury front when Ryan Shazier returned to practice Wednesday and worked with the Steelers' first-team unit, per Jim Wexell of

This is a positive step for the rookie linebacker who is battling his way back from a knee sprain suffered in the Week 3 win over the Carolina Panthers. Shazier practiced last week but only on a limited basis. His participation in team drills shows a step in the right direction to getting him back on the playing field Monday night.

It should be noted that his participation in practice Wednesday doesn't signify a guarantee of his return Monday night when the Houston Texans invade Heinz Field, but merely a sign that his return could be sooner rather than later.

Although Sean Spence's play in the absence of Shazier hasn't been a glaring issue within the Steelers' defense, the defensive unit could use the speed, explosiveness and agility Shazier brings to the lineup.

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