Shipp shines in return, Arrington still firmly the starter
PRESCOTT, Ariz. -- Marcel Shipp played in his first game in more than a year, and looked a lot like his old, smash-mouth self. No matter how well he plays in the preseason, though, he will not be the Arizona Cardinals' starting running back as long as rookie J.J. Arrington is healthy.
Coach Dennis Green reaffirmed that fact on Monday in a tone that indicated irritation that the subject was even broached.
"I look forward to Marcel being a real value to our football team," Green said. "I don't know how much he's going to play. I don't know how much J.J.'s going to play. But I think I answered the question of J.J. being the starter."
Green has had great success in his two drafts with the Cardinals, and he expects those selected early to start right away. Arrington was chosen in the second round.
"That's the way we do football," Green said, "and we like the way we do football."
Quarterback Kurt Warner said a lot is being asked of Arrington as a runner, blocker and receiver.
"He's just got a great feel for the game," Warner said. "He's going to get nothing but better, but he's still a rookie and it still takes time. Very few can just jump in and treat it like old business."
Arrington, the leading rusher in major college football with 2,018 yards for California last season, has gained 36 yards in 13 carries in his first two preseason games. He has fumbled once in each game, losing one of them.
Green said he's not concerned.
"You don't worry about any issue in training camp. That's what it's for. I think he'll get very much accustomed to it. The more he carries, the more adjusted he'll get to the style of play and the hits and everything," Green said. "I think he'll be fine."
Arrington said he still is adjusting to the speed of the game, but remains confident and appreciates Green's support.
"It's good to know," Arrington said. "I'm a rookie that got thrown into the fire from the first day. I know they've got high expectations for me. Just to know he has my back and he expects me to have a couple of mistakes here and there is good."
Fighting to win a job is nothing new for Shipp, who was not drafted out of Massachusetts. He knows that Green has not seen what he can do.
"There's always a chip on my shoulder when I'm out there," Shipp said. "I'm playing to be a starter, I'm not playing to be a backup. But I'm just out there trying to do what I can, figure out what my role is on this team and just perfect it."
Shipp missed all of last year after breaking a leg and dislocating an ankle in the team's training camp intersquad game on Aug. 6, 2004. In his first game back, Saturday night in Kansas City, Shipp gained 56 yards in seven carries, including a 26-yard ramble.
"It felt better than old times," Shipp said, "because when you're out for a year, you just sit around waiting for this time to come around."
Warner said there will be many instances when Arrington and Shipp both are in the game.
"There are so many ways you can use those guys together on the field at the same time," Warner said. "Contrasting styles, both good at what they do, it gives you an added dimension, no question."
The running back corps is nearly set, with J.R. Redmond, the former Arizona State star signed as a free agent, No. 3 on the depth chart and the team's top punt returner. Green may decide to go with four running backs, a job that could go to Damien Anderson.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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