ARIZONA CARDINALS

Keim, Fitzgerald helped Cardinals’ Shipley move forward after ACL injury

Aug 27, 2018, 8:54 AM | Updated: 4:25 pm

An injured Arizona Cardinals center A.Q. Shipley (53) is checked by head athletic trainer Tom Reed,...

An injured Arizona Cardinals center A.Q. Shipley (53) is checked by head athletic trainer Tom Reed, right, as Shipley walks off the field during an NFL football practice Saturday, Aug. 4, 2018, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Heading into training camp, A.Q. Shipley already had a strong reputation in the Arizona Cardinals’ locker room.

He was the team’s only offensive lineman who played 16 games in each of the past two years. Ask any of his teammates, and he was the voice of the position group. The Cardinals had initial contract extension talks with him prior to training camp, a good sign they saw his value at center but also as a leader.

But when Shipley tore his ACL on Aug. 4 during the team’s Red & White practice, the doubts crept in.

“I mean, first couple of days were rough — first two days in particular,” Shipley told Doug & Wolf Monday on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station. “As much as it hurt knowing that I was going to be out for the season, then a wave of emotion came over me that this was the last year of my contract.

“Like I just played my last snap, possibly, in a practice. That was one of the hardest things and I think the trainers knew that, the guys knew that and they just kind of, they kept telling me, ‘It’s going to work out.’ I’m like, that’s all well and fine, but I don’t have a contract next season.”

It wasn’t until last Wednesday that Arizona showed just how much it valued Shipley. Upon general manager Steve Keim’s return from a five-week suspension stemming from his July 4 DUI that he plead guilty to, Shipley said contract extension talks immediately began despite the center’s lost 2017 season.

Two days later, the extension was official.

“You know, great show of faith on their part and also I think a testament to kind of what I’ve been able to do as a player but also in the locker room the last couple of years,” Shipley said.

Emotionally, Shipley is out of the doldrums. The support from his teammates helped the 32-year-old center take in the fate of a spoiled season for himself and look forward to helping the team.

Text messages from Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald meant a lot to the center.

“Everybody knows the legend of Larry, right? I got a text message from Larry Fitzgerald that put me back on the horse. It was inspirational but also kind of, hey listen … take a few days to feel sorry for yourself was the message, and get back on the horse and come back stronger,” Shipley told Doug & Wolf.

“Literally every single day from the time it happened, checking in on me — the two days before we had our first preseason game, I went and got surgery, he texted me that morning, texted me again that afternoon, ‘How you feeling, big fella?’ Sent me a picture of my locker from the first preseason game, ‘Hey, we miss you, big fella.’ That goes so much farther beyond him as a player.”

Shipley said his rehab is progressing, and head coach Steve Wilks said Friday that the center will begin joining the Cardinals in meeting rooms once he’s able to move around better.

“He’s a major part of what we were doing at the time, he’s a leader in that room — I still consider him to be a leader in that room,” Wilks said.

That should benefit Shipley’s replacement, rookie and third-round pick Mason Cole, who has held his own as a starter in three preseason games.

While Shipley hopes he can lend enough support to help Cole and the Cardinals with his mind this year, it could ultimately set up a key position battle heading into 2019 should the rookie perform well.

“We’ll find out what kind of a coach I am this year,” Shipley said.

“I’m going to do that but let’s also not forget that when I come back next year I’m going for my job.”

Arizona Cardinals

Offensive tackle Paris Johnson Jr....

Arizona Sports

Cardinals’ Paris Johnson Jr. breaks down his move to left tackle: ‘I’ve done it at a high level’

Cardinals tackle Paris Johnson Jr. said moving to left tackle is a challenge but also a spot he's played at a very high level before.

14 hours ago

Cardinals QB Kyler Murray attempts a pass...

Tyler Drake

There’s nothing voluntary about these Arizona Cardinals OTAs

In the NFL rulebook, organized team activities are categorized as voluntary. In the Cardinals' Tempe training facility, they're anything but.

15 hours ago

Paris Johnson and Kyler Murray celebrate a touchdown...

Tyler Drake

Cardinals’ Paris Johnson Jr. starts OTAs moving to left tackle, Jonah Williams to right

The worst-kept secret within the Arizona Cardinals training facility is out: Paris Johnson Jr. is making the move to left tackle.

22 hours ago

Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray runs from Colts pass rusher Kwity Paye...

Arizona Sports

Cardinals will hold joint practices with Colts in preseason

Arizona Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon said his team will hold joint practices with the Indianapolis Colts in the preseason.

22 hours ago

Arizona Cardinals celebrate a touchdown...

Tyler Drake

Cardinals Corner podcast: Predicting Arizona’s 2024 record

Taking a game-by-game approach, Cardinals Corner podcast co-hosts Tyler Drake and Lauren Koval give their win-loss predictions for Arizona.

24 hours ago

David Johnson of the Arizona Cardinals returns the opening kickoff for a touchdown against the Chic...

Damon Allred

Former Cardinals RB David Johnson announces retirement from NFL

Former Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson announced his retirement from the NFL on Sunday via Instagram.

2 days ago

Keim, Fitzgerald helped Cardinals’ Shipley move forward after ACL injury