TAMPA — No player has been on as many Bruce Arians teams as center A.Q. Shipley, who joined the coach on the Steelers, Colts, Cardinals and now Bucs.
So it was difficult for Arians to hear the news that Shipley’s nine-season career might be over.
Shipley was injured late in Monday night’s 27-24 loss to the Rams at Raymond James Stadium with what was called a “stinger” by Arians during his postgame news conference.
Turns out it likely is much worse. Appearing Wednesday on SiriusXM NFL Radio, Arians said Shipley’s career might be over.
“A.Q. Shipley appears to have had a career-ending injury,” Arians said. “I feel bad because I love A.Q. He’s one of my favorite players of all time and was playing good for us. But I think it was a previous injury that might have gotten aggravated in his neck.”
The Bucs already are without starting left guard Ali Marpet, who has missed three games with a concussion. Left tackle Donovan Smith did not practice Wednesday due to an ankle sprain.
Shipley, 34, started the past two games at center while center Ryan Jensen moved to left guard in place of Marpet. Shipley was a seventh-round draft pick out of Penn State by the Steelers in 2009, but he didn’t make an NFL roster until 2012 with the Colts. He signed with the Bucs this season in late August, was released Sept. 5, then re-signed a few days later.
His experience will be hard to replace as the Bucs’ offensive line is a bit of a mess heading into Sunday’s game against the Chiefs.
Bucs offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich may have to be creative if Shipley is done, and Marpet and Smith can’t play.
The Bucs likely would move Ryan Jensen, who started the last two games at left guard, back to center. Aaron Stinnie likely would play left guard, and Josh Wells has been the backup left tackle.
“We’ll know more here in the next couple days,” Leftwich said Thursday. “I don’t know the exact news on A.Q., to be honest with you. … I heard what (Arians) said but we’ll figure out more the next couple of days.”