Cardinals center A.Q. Shipley snaps the first ball of the team's Phase 2 work last month. Shipley has missed all of OTAs after core surgery.
A.Q. Shipley hadn't missed a practice "in my life" before the Cardinals begun organized team activities.
But once OTAs started the team's starting center ended up on the sideline, needing to get core/hernia surgery on a problem he suffered in the team's next-to-last game of the 2016 season in Seattle. Shipley played against the Rams with it and thought it would get better on its own. It did not.
"I was going to try and fight through it but it was one of those things where it was lingering and I didn't want
to have it during the season," Shipley said Thursday.
His recovery time is almost over already – Shipley said he'll be fine in mid-June – and he will be ready to go once training camp begins.
In the meantime, with Evan Boehm taking over as the first-unit right guard, it's been Cole Toner working with the first unit at center. Tony Bergstrom, a free agent signee, has also gotten center reps as the Cardinals work on versatility for all reserve linemen.
Realistically, Shipley knows it's not terrible he is out, having playing in the offensive system for seven years and four previous seasons with starting quarterback Carson Palmer.
"I'm very comfortable in this offense and with Carson," Shipley said. "He's not doing much either."
Shipley has been working with Toner, giving him pointers. Ideally, he would've been out there for a little taste of football prior to camp, but there are benefits in being sidelined.
"Best my shoulder has felt in a while, I know that much," Shipley said.
PETERSON AS PUNT RETURNER
Every year, there is a push to get all-pro cornerback Patrick Peterson away from punt returns. Every year,
Peterson ends up with the job. This season may not be any different. Coach Bruce Arians acknowledged Peterson is the leading candidate to return punts again.
"He's still dynamic, and until I get a better one, and one I trust back there," Arians said. "I do trust Pat."
Arians said wide receiver John Brown, who had some success as a punt returner last season, "wants to do it bad." Receivers J.J. Nelson and Brittan Golden are options, and the Cards may look at rookie running back T.J. Logan, although Logan has never returned punts.
PALMER REST MAKES A DIFFERENCE
After the Cardinals set up a plan for Palmer to skip throwing most of the offseason, he started again late last week. It's made a difference, Arians said.
"It's like he's 20," Arians said of the 37-year-old Palmer. "The rest obviously did him good."
Palmer isn't expected to throw in Friday's final OTA, but he will practice all of minicamp next week, Arians added.
MARRIAGE CAN CHANGE A GUY
Arians was asked how a player might change once he got married. The coach said those players usually get more serious – which makes sense, given who is now counting on them.
Also, "they are usually in bed a lot earlier," Arians said. "They're not out there chasing a wife."
Images from the most recent Cardinals' OTA practice