Earlier this offseason the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made NFL history by retaining all 22 starters from their Super Bowl winning team, a first in the salary cap era. Now the continuity goes beyond that, as the Bucs are transitioning one of last year’s backup players into a coaching position, with offensive lineman A.Q. Shipley joining Bruce Arians’ staff as an offensive assistant.
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Shipley signed with the Buccaneers as a reserve in 2020 following an extended run as the starting center for the Arizona Cardinals. But the 34-year-old suffered a career-ending neck injury during Tampa’s Week 11 loss to the Los Angeles Rams, at which point Arians told the media that Shipley was “one of [his] favorite players of all-time” and that he planned to give him the chance to begin his coaching career in Tampa.
“I’m super grateful and looking forward to a great opportunity to learn from the best staff in the NFL,” said Shipley, speaking with Buccaneers staff writer Carmen Vitali. “I always felt like I was an extension of the staff on the field when I played, and now I get to be a part of a Super Bowl winning staff and coach these guys from this side.”
A.Q. Shipley Was Drafted by the Steelers
Shipley was a seventh-round draft choice of the Steelers in 2009 (No. 226 overall), but he didn’t really establish himself in the NFL until 2012, when he appeared in 14 games for the Indianapolis Colts. After that he played one season for the Baltimore Ravens, then spent another year in Indianapolis before settling in with the Cardinals.
Over the course of his 12 years as an NFL player, Shipley appeared in 110 games and made 72 starts, mostly at center, but he also worked at left guard. He played his college football at Penn State, where he won the 2008 Rimington Trophy, which is awarded to college football’s most outstanding center.
Shipley Joins a Staff Loaded with Ex-Steelers
Shipley will be in good company working alongside Arians (Pittsburgh’s former offensive coordinator), who employs several former Steelers on his coaching staff. That includes ex-quarterback Byron Leftwich, who is entering his third season as Tampa Bay’s offensive coordinator. A first-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2003, Leftwich spent the last three seasons of his nine-year playing career serving as backup to Ben Roethlisberger.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Bucs have former Steelers inside linebacker Larry Foote serving as outside linebackers coach, entering his third season in that role.
Finally, longtime NFL coach Tom Moore, now in his eighties, is serving as a Bucs assistant coach on offense. Moore was Pittsburgh’s wide receivers coach between 1977 and 1982 before getting promoted to offensive coordinator in 1983. Along the way he worked with numerous Hall of Fame Steelers, including Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Mike Webster, Lynn Swann and John Stallworth.
Two Former Steelers Players Remain on Tampa Bay’s Roster
Meanwhile, Arians also has two former Steelers players serving in reserve roles.
Last October ex-Steelers defensive tackle Steve McLendon was traded from the lowly New York Jets to Buccaneers, where he won a Super Bowl ring four months later. He was re-signed by the Buccaneers in April, as was former Steelers cornerback Ross Cockrell, who Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht has referred to as “one of the best pickups” the team made during the 2020 season.
It’s also worth noting that until recently, Arians had another ex-Steeler on his coaching staff, but in February Antwaan Randle El moved on to become wide receivers coach for the Detroit Lions.
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