Can Shipley handle the starting job at left guard?

Can Shipley handle the starting job at left guard?
November 6, 2013, 7:00 am
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3-and-Out: Can Ravens turn it around?

(Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports)

EARLY BIRD: Waking up with the Ravens as they get back to practice, and try to get back to winning. 

Two-minute topic: Can A. Q. Shipley handle the starting job at left guard?

OWINGS MILLS: Shipley made his first start during Sunday’s loss to the Browns, and his reviews were mixed. According to statistical website Pro Football Focus, Shipley graded the lowest (-2.1) among the Ravens’ offensive linemen Sunday, particularly struggling with run blocking.

However, coach John Harbaugh was encouraged by Shipley’s performance after watching the tape. Gino Gradkowski beat out Shipley for the starting center job during preseason, but now Shipley and Gradkowski are lining up next to each other. 

“A. Q. is a pit bull,” Harbaugh said. “He a fighter in there. He’s smart, he knows what to do, and he plays with good technique. We’re pleased with the way he played.”

Shipley figures to be playing a lot, with Kelechi Osemele (back injury) done for the year. With the Ravens (3-5) still struggling to run the football, Shipley is not guaranteed a starting spot the rest of the way, but the job looks like his to lose.

“I felt really good,” Shipley said. “I’m sure I got beat at times, and I think there’s  obviously a lot to improve upon, but for the first time really starting at guard, I thin it was pretty solid.”

The Ravens’ struggles running the football have also made pass blocking more challenging.

“Teams have their ears pinned back, they know it’s a pass, we’re sitting back in shotgun, they’re coming hot,” Shipley said. “But it’s our job to stand up to that.”

Shipley was not an important cog in the offensive line’s success or failure when the season began. However, he is now.

Morning thought: “Quarterbacks are under fire all around the league, and part of that is because the new rules have made it difficult to develop offensive line play.” -  Harbaugh talking about hits in the pocket that NFL quarterbacks are taking.