PRESCOTT - Marcel Shipp has, at times, been the Cardinals' starting running back the past few years. But the job has never truly been his.
Shipp, an undrafted free agent in 2001, wrested the job from Thomas Jones in 2002 and led the team in rushing. He got a contract extension worth about $1.4 million a year.
Since then, it’s been more downs than ups.
“That’s true, but that’s all I know,” Shipp said. “I don’t know any other way to approach the game, and I like that. I like working and earning my job.”
He’s had to earn it. Emmitt Smith was brought in to start in 2003, and Shipp wrested the starting job back and ended up leading the team in rushing again. Then new coach Dennis Green arrived and gave the job back to Smith, a disappointment punctuated when Shipp suffered season-ending ankle and leg injuries early in training camp last year.
Now, Shipp — who thought he might have a chance to start this season — is likely fighting for a job, period. Last year’s injuries are healed, but his right hamstring has kept him on the physically unable to perform list. Meanwhile, rookie J.J. Arrington and six other running backs with NFL experience remain on the roster.
“Every year I feel my job is on the line,” Shipp said. “I come in every season looking over my shoulder. But I work hard and it pays off during the season. I always know the odds are against me. I want to prove I belong here.”