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A.Q. Shipley Shapes Up As Fullback

Offensive lineman gets big block on Ellington touchdown run

A.Q. Shipley has never been a running back, not even back in high school.

"Oh no," he said Monday. "I've always been the big guy."

Given how much Bruce Arians seems to shy away from fullbacks, it's not even clear if one could call Shipley – the Cardinals' backup center/guard – a fullback, even after his lead block from the backfield opened up just enough room for running back Andre Ellington's one-yard touchdown run in the Cards' season-opening win.

"I don't know what I'm called," Shipley said. "I'm kind of the irrelevant guy at that point.

"I just do what I'm asked to do."

Normally, that's filling in on the offensive line. But when Arians was offensive coordinator and interim head coach in Indianapolis in 2012, Shipley sometimes would get work as a tight end or fullback in jumbo packages if he wasn't starting.

The Cardinals hadn't practiced A.Q.-as-fullback until last week, but that work with the Colts made it easy to remember. It was nice to "turn the tables" on a linebacker for once, Shipley acknowledged, with an ability to get a head of steam before crashing into linebacker Stephone Anthony.

After the block – and Ellington's score – Shipley came out of the mess of bodies fired up.

"I knew I got some good contact on that middle 'backer and anytime you can do that, it can get the juices flowing a little bit," Shipley said.

"It's kind of like a guard pulling, but you don't have to worry about going laterally," Shipley added. "You just have to worry about going downhill."

It's not the first time in recent memory the Cardinals have employed a larger-than-normal fullback. In December of 2013, nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu got a shot there in a game – "I think they couldn't deny my speed," Ta'amu joked afterward – and former coach Ken Whisenhunt used Darnell Dockett and Gabe Watson in that role  at one point.

With Ellington's PCL sprain likely to keep him out at least a game or two, the Cardinals are down to three running backs. Perhaps Shipley can fill in as a fourth.

"If they want to give me the ball," Shipley said, "I'd be more thrilled to have that happen."


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