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A.Q. Shipley Eager For Center Competition

Posted May 16, 2013

A.Q. Shipley was surprised the Colts traded him after a strong showing in four starts.


Scrapping is nothing new for A.Q. Shipley.

The 2009 seventh-round pick is on his fourth team and spent three years on practice squads before he got to play in his first regular-season game.

So walking into a competition for the starting center job in Baltimore is a welcomed challenge. And it’s one that began this week. 

“It’s been my life,” Shipley said. “I’ve had to work for everything I’ve ever had. When it comes to competing, I enjoy it and feel very confident.”

Shipley was acquired by the Ravens last week in a trade with the Indianapolis Colts for a conditional 2014 draft pick.

After the Colts drafted a center in the fourth round, Shipley figured they would trade one of their three centers. He just didn’t think it would be him.

The trade leaves Shipley again trying to prove he can be a starter. He will battle second-year center Gino Gradkowski and rookie sixth-round pick Ryan Jensen for first-team snaps.

“I kind of assumed something might happen, but didn’t really think it was going to be me to be honest,” Shipley said. “But hey, it’s a great opportunity for me.”

Shipley started four games last year in Indianapolis when starter Samson Satele went down with an injury. He performed well and earned a high 6.9 grade from Pro Football Focus.

He prides himself on being a smart center who understands the concepts of the game and reading defenses. Shipley also said his height (6-foot-1) helps him with leverage. Gradkowski is considered a smallish center, relatively speaking, but is two inches taller than Shipley.

“I felt I played well enough to be a starter on any team in the league,” Shipley said. “I think that’s why I generated a little buzz on the trade block.”

The Ravens, who traditionally do not like to part with picks, pulled the trigger to snag Shipley. Adding the veteran could be a move similar to what the Ravens did two years ago with Andre Gurode, and to an extent with Bobbie Williams last year. It adds depth and a possible starter on the interior offensive line.

But Shipley, 26, is younger than both. And while he can play guard, he’s more of a true center. Shipley said he was told by Ravens coaches that he will be given every opportunity to win the starting job.

“Whoever wins the job wins the job,” Shipley said. “When you’re traded and they’re willing to give up a pick for you, you know you’re wanted. It’s not like I was released or something. The Ravens gave up a pick.”

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