A.Q. Shipley was the starting center for the Arizona Cardinals until a major knee injury caused him to sit out the 2018 season
One of the pleasant surprises of the Arizona Cardinals’ 2018 campaign was the play of their starting center. No, it wasn’t A.Q. Shipley anchoring the squad’s offensive line last fall. The veteran’s entire season was wiped out by a devastating knee injury that occurred during the Cards’ annual “Red and White” practice last August.
That unfortunate incident propelled a rookie into the starting lineup. Mason Cole, the Cardinals’ third-round draft pick, would go on to start all 16 games for the team. Besides that feat, the youngster would also hold the distinction of being the only Arizona player to be on the field for every snap last year.
Cole, obviously thrown into a tight spot, performed well under the circumstances. There’s an old adage in the NFL. However, that states that an individual should never lose his job due to an injury. Based on that point, should Shipley automatically be named the Cards’ starter again once he regains his health?
That’s a question that will certainly be answered eventually. The Cardinals’ coaching staff could elect to hold a competition for the center position. It would be intriguing to see if Shipley, who will turn 33 in May, would be able to beat out the more youthful Cole at this point in his career.
That would not be an easy task, especially considering the fact that Shipley is attempting to bounce back from a torn ACL. The former seventh-round selection of the Pittsburgh Steelers has overachieved since he entered the league in 2009. It would not be entirely surprising if Arizona preferred that the 22-year old Cole remained their starting center going forward.
In a show of good faith, general manager Steve Keim inked Shipley to an extension last summer. The deal was offered just two weeks after the knee surgery took place. It was an incredibly classy gesture by the Cards’ organization and one that was greatly appreciated by the sidelined Shipley.
Time will determine who the Cardinals’ first-string center will be in 2019. Management has recently added reinforcements to the offensive line, but the configuration of the group has yet to be revealed. Whether the starting blocking unit will contain Shipley or not will be determined soon enough.