Center A.Q. Shipley (53) is the only Cardinals' offensive lineman to have started every game this season.
It lasted all of eight snaps.
That was the extent of the 2017 season for the planned offensive line – and offense – for the Cardinals. Left tackle D.J. Humphries was hurt on the eighth offensive play of the season, and that unit never played together again as originally constructed.
The offense as a whole has been ravaged. Running back David Johnson and tackle D.J. Humphries went down in the first game, and Humphries again for good in early November. Guard Mike Iupati was gone in the first month and quarterback Carson Palmer before the bye. Wide receiver John Brown really hasn’t been healthy all season. Tackle Jared Veldheer was officially finished last week, and coach Bruce Arians said Wednesday “I have no idea” if running back Adrian Peterson – who figures to miss his third straight game Sunday – will play again this season.
The Cardinals have a (very) feint pulse when it comes to the postseason. And they try not to think of
“I mean, if you do, you start beating yourself up, right?” said center A.Q. Shipley, the lone offensive lineman to have played every game.
“We’ve got a ton of talent sitting on the sideline right now. You go out in that parking lot, behind the gate (where the top of the roster gets spaces), it’s pretty scarce. The guys we were counting on, it’s unfortunate, we’ve suffered some injuries. Everyone in this building would say no excuses, right? So you’re good, and you have to be able to perform.”
Technically, Shipley isn’t the last man standing. Sure, three of the original offensive linemen – Humphries, Veldheer and Iupati – are on injured reserve, but Evan Boehm is back at right guard. He hadn’t been hurt but instead benched for Earl Watford – who didn’t sign until October, and is now out with a high ankle sprain.
Backup John Wetzel has played more tackle this season than Humphries, and he remains on the right side. Rookie Will Holden will play left tackle, although no one is sure exactly how that will go.
“We’ll find out,” Arians said. “No more chances to not be ready.”
Boehm said he’s improved on some of his issues since being sat down after four games. Like Shipley, he had optimism for the line – and the offense – coming out of training camp.
“It didn’t go as planned. Not at all,” Boehm said. “No matter who is in there, A.Q. is going to be the workhorse that stays in there and directs the traffic. (Left guard Alex) Boone too. We just have to go
out and finish the season, and play ball.”
The Cardinals are trying. They have a chance to win two in a row for the first time this season – and reach .500 – if they can beat Washington Sunday. They’re on their third quarterback in Blaine Gabbert and Kerwynn Williams is essentially their fourth starting running back, after Johnson, Chris Johnson and Peterson. No one saw rookie tight end Ricky Seals-Jones morphing into the second likeliest receiving target after Larry Fitzgerald.
“You try to have players who can hopefully fill in the voids and then tailor it around them,” Arians said. “You really can’t have two offenses, one for this team and one for that team. Injuries happen. (GM) Steve (Keim) does a good job of finding guys we like and you keep weaning it down to where they can be successful.”
Gabbert insisted he had faith in the new line, and said he was “fine” after absorbing eight sacks last week against the Titans. The Cardinals’ offense isn’t scoring a lot – they have averaged 18.7 points a game since Palmer went down, and have scored only two touchdowns the past two games – but they still believe in a push for a 9-7 record.
It would’ve been easier with fewer starters sitting out.
“I feel bad for all these guys,” Shipley said. “But reality is you have to move on, and move on with the guys you’ve got.”
Images of the Cardinals cheerleaders during the Week 14 home game