Center A.Q. Shipley loving Cardinals’ downhill attack so far
Cardinals coach Steve Wilks has made it no secret that running back David Johnson will get his fair share of carries in 2018.
And while Johnson said Friday that he’d not yet expanded his focus of first-year offensive coordinator Mike McCoy’s offense into the realm of the wide receivers, it’s expected there will be some versatility to Arizona’s attack with Johnson and beyond.
However, the basics of it, as shown in the first few snippets of practices over the weekend, is that the Cardinals want to wear down defensive fronts.
“I love the offense. I really do,” said center A.Q. Shipley on Monday while visiting 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Doug & Wolf. “I think it’s going to put us in position to win some games. It’s a lot — we have a fullback again. It’s a hard-nosed, downhill — but we also have plans in place to do some different things to kind of give everyone a chance to win.”
Shipley, who has started every game for Arizona over the past two seasons, enters the year as the starting center. With that comes responsibilities, ones he feels comfortable taking on in his 10th NFL season.
“There’s a lot of checks, there’s a lot of reading safeties, which plays to my forte being able to get guys on the same page,” he added Monday. “We do a lot of downhill gap stuff, which is kind of what I’m built for.”
This early in camp, it’s hard to imagine what complexities McCoy will install into the offense, but Arizona has already regularly called upon fullback Derrick Coleman, plus tights ends Ricky Seals-Jones and Gabe Holmes, to run with the first team offense.
Could there be potential for other elements such as more spread formations or even run-pass options?
“No doubt. I think the game is going that way, in general,” Shipley said. “Especially with what Philly did, you see what Tennessee’s been able to do with Marcus Mariota and those guys. You either adapt or die, sink or swim, right?
“That’s kind of philosophy I think everybody’s taken where you take your old-school approach but you also have to blend things to take care of what this league has given us, and that’s defensive linemen that are kind of freakish.”
Shipley knows a thing when he likes it.
He’s worn the same model of Nike cleats since coming into the league as a rookie in 2009.
“They discontinued these cleats, Nike did, in 2012,” Shipley said. “And so when they went to the new cleats, I couldn’t find any that I loved. Every year, the Cardinals, they’ll go on Eastbay (an athletic apparel website), they’ll go on Ebay, they’ll go on all these different sites to find me these. They’ll give me 10 pairs a year and whatever color possible. So like, these ones were originally orange or blue or whatever, so I send them to this guy in Miami and he paints them up red or black just to make them go.
“They’re probably 18 dollars a piece at this point because they’re so old.”
Accepting the new guys
Arizona refurbished the right side of the offensive line this offseason, adding guard Justin Pugh and tackle Andre Smith to join Shipley, left guard Mike Iupati and left tackle D.J. Humphries.
Now, it’s just about keeping all of them healthy after injuries took away any potential for consistency in the past two seasons.
“We clicked kind of right away,” Shipley said of the two newcomers. “Pugh’s a great guy, and Andre and I came out in the same draft class. We kind of did the whole pre-draft circuit together.
“It’s a really good group. I’m hoping we can all kind of knock on wood here and get healthy and get the rapport that we need to get going through this season.”
Brown has their ears
First-year Cardinals offensive line coach, Ray Brown, followed head coach Steve Wilks to the desert from Carolina and with 20 NFL seasons under his belt has a wealth of experience to impart on his linemen.
That means he’s got an opinion that those linemen respect.
“He’s a players coach through and through,” Shipley said. “He builds you up, he’s uplifting, he’s always got your back. He played 20 years in the National Football League, so anything he says, we’re all sponges.”