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A.Q. Shipley On The Difficulties Of Becoming Center

Former Cardinal goes on 'Big Red Rage' to talk about Pugh's efforts

Justin Pugh and A.Q. Shipley, former teammates, remain friends. So recently, Pugh -- the Cardinals left guard who got some offseason work at center with the future of Rodney Hudson unclear -- texted Shipley, the now-retired former center of the Cardinals, following minicamp.

"This may be harder than I thought it was," Pugh sent to Shipley.

And that, Shipley said on the most recent episode of the "Big Red Rage," was not a surprise.

"It's so funny to me to sit there and think it's going to be easier (than guard) when you've got one hand between your legs, you've got to make all the mental calls, you've got to get everyone on the right page," Shipley said. "Sometimes, if the quarterback has his plate full knowing all the pass game stuff, now you're in charge of all the run checks. There are so many different nuances that the center has to be able to help out not only among the offensive line but among the whole group."

Pugh has never played center before. Rookie Lecitus Smith, a sixth-round pick who also got some work at center during OTAs and minicamp, never snapped a ball until he started doing it in pre-draft workouts, knowing a team might want him to do more than play guard. Sean Harlow, who made his first NFL start last season, is currently Hudson's backup.

When the Cardinals get clarity about Hudson is unknown. It may be something that runs all the way up until training camp (or even into camp.) In the meantime, the Cardinals can still look outside the roster -- veteran Billy Price, who visited earlier this offseason, remains a free agent -- or develop within.

"You hope the guy can make the transition but it all comes down to being comfortable," Shipley said. "When you have never really had your hand between your legs trying to block (Buccaneers defensive tackle) Vita Vea weighing 380 (pounds), and you had to make all the calls, until someone has done that, I don't think it's as easy as people think."

Center A.Q. Shipley (53) in a 2016 game.
Center A.Q. Shipley (53) in a 2016 game.