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Old 05-31-2009, 12:10 AM   #1
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Default Steelers' rookie tries to overcome obstacle

Steelers' rookie tries to overcome obstacle
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By Scott Brown, TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, May 31, 2009
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt.../s_627495.html

Scott Brown is the Steelers beat writer. He can be reached via e-mail. Also check out Brown's blog and Steelers Q&A.
Home Delivery

Mike Tomlin knows a thing or two about motivating players.

So it probably shouldn't come as any surprise that the Steelers coach regularly tells rookie center A.Q. Shipley, "Man, those arms are looking short."

The length of Shipley's arms is a big reason why 225 players were selected before the Moon Area High School graduate in April. And Tomlin's daily reminders of that supposed shortcoming are his way of telling Shipley to stiff-arm the doubters.

"He tells me he's going to tell me that every day until I make this team," Shipley said after an offseason practice at the Steelers' South Side facility, "because he doesn't care how long my arms are, which is awesome."

While his arm span is a little under 30 inches — considered short for an NFL offensive linemen — a spot on the Steelers' 53-man roster is not out of his reach.

Justin Hartwig appears entrenched as the starter at center. But the eighth-year veteran is entering the final year of his contract, and the Steelers may need a successor sooner rather than later.

It is too early to tell whether Shipley is the Steelers' center of the future, but he has been among the first-year players who have pleasantly surprised offensive coordinator Bruce Arians during offseason practices.

"I'm pleased with all of the rookies on offense," Arians said, "Every single one is showing progress and possibilities. This is a hard team to make. (But) I wouldn't count out any of them making our team."

It's not wise to count Shipley out.

Despite hearing questions about his size since he started playing football, the Coraopolis native blossomed into a premier center at Penn State.

A three-year starter in college, Shipley won the 2008 Rimington Trophy, which is given to the top center in the country, and anchored the best offensive line in the Big Ten.

The 6-1, 305-pounder excelled at the NFL Scouting Combine in February, ranking among the top offensive linemen in the 225-pound bench press, several speed drills and vertical leap. He also scored a 40 out of 50 on the Wonderlic aptitude test.

Yet, his slide on the second day of the draft made it clear that teams were more concerned about other measurables — namely, Shipley's height and the length of his arms.

By way of comparison, centers Alex Mack and Eric Wood — both drafted in the first round this year — have arms measured at 33 inches.

Shipley, selected in the seventh round, may have emerged from the draft with a bruised ego. But his feelings were soothed by the fact that he was drafted by his hometown team.

"I've worked my whole life to play in the NFL, and to get picked up by the team I fell in love with is almost surreal at times," Shipley said. "But now it's a business. I have to make the team and show them I can play here."

One thing that will help Shipley in his quest to do that is the edge with which he plays. It is a product of all of those questions he has heard about what he supposedly doesn't have or can't do.

"I think I'll have that chip on my shoulder the rest of my life," Shipley said. "I've been out to prove (critics) wrong, one for myself, two for my family and three just to prove everyone wrong."
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Old 05-31-2009, 02:38 AM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers' rookie tries to overcome obstacle

I love how we get these guys with a chip on there shoulder. Makes them want outshine the whole league day in day. Keep up the good work Ship we , because we neeeeed a back up Center.
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Old 05-31-2009, 05:12 AM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers' rookie tries to overcome obstacle

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While his arm span is a little under 30 inches — considered short for an NFL offensive linemen — a spot on the Steelers' 53-man roster is not out of his reach.
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Old 05-31-2009, 07:35 AM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers' rookie tries to overcome obstacle

I like the way this guy talks. Sounds like he is ready to make some noise in Pittsburgh. I hope he makes the team and can improve our offensive line.
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Old 05-31-2009, 04:24 PM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers' rookie tries to overcome obstacle

Mack and Wood are at 33 inches and Shipley is at 30. Does any one else think too much is being made out of arm length.
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Old 05-31-2009, 04:32 PM   #6
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Default Re: Steelers' rookie tries to overcome obstacle

it sure would be nice if they also gave a progress report for the position competition.....i mean how is legursky's progress compared to shipley....etc...etc.....
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Old 05-31-2009, 07:03 PM   #7
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Default Re: Steelers' rookie tries to overcome obstacle

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Originally Posted by triphahn View Post
Mack and Wood are at 33 inches and Shipley is at 30. Does any one else think too much is being made out of arm length.
This is also what got me thinking...sure 3 inches makes a difference, but is it really that big of a difference?
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Old 05-31-2009, 07:37 PM   #8
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Default Re: Steelers' rookie tries to overcome obstacle

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Originally Posted by triphahn View Post
Mack and Wood are at 33 inches and Shipley is at 30. Does any one else think too much is being made out of arm length.
Shipley is 29-3/4
Mack 33
Wood 33-3/4

But, Mack and Wood are also 3 inches taller and have larger frames to put more weight on and play at 10-15lbs heavier than Shipley. Is too much being made out of arm length...........I believe yes. Shipley can overcome that, but he wont have the size and power of the other 2.

At the end of the day, both Mack and Wood should be and can be bigger and more powerful inline blockers than Shipley. Shipley uses his quickness to cut guys off and try to seal lanes. All are good centers, but IMO.....Mack and Wood are more physical maulers, while Shipley is a quicker technician that will have trouble moving guys like Shaun Rogers, Ty Warren, Jamaal Williams, etc.
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Old 06-01-2009, 01:26 PM   #9
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Default Re: Steelers' rookie tries to overcome obstacle

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Originally Posted by El-Gonzo Jackson View Post
...while Shipley is a quicker technician that will have trouble moving guys like Shaun Rogers, Ty Warren, Jamaal Williams, etc.
Could bring up some interesting "David and Goliath" battles... hopefully his quickness could get him a jump on them before their tonnages get going in the wrong direction.
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Old 06-01-2009, 04:48 PM   #10
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Default Re: Steelers' rookie tries to overcome obstacle

Ok...stupid question....

Do you measure arm length from the armpit or do you measure arm length from the shoulder blade?
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