I'll be the first to admit that I wasn't a big Marcel Shipp fan, especially the past couple of years, but his contributions to the Arizona Cardinals can't be denied. He was undrafted out of the University of Massachusetts where he rushed for over 5,300 yards during his collegiate career and led UMass to a National Championship. His lack of game changing speed and lack of high quality competition led him to being undrafted. The Cardinals signed him shortly thereafter and he went on to appear in 11 games his rookie year (2001), primarily on special teams. His next two seasons were the best of his career and he'd start 17 games combined during those seasons and total just over 1,600 yards. He'd suffer a horrible leg injury duringtraining camp of the 2004 season and would miss the entire season. He'd return the following season but he couldn't recapture the success of the 2002 and 2003 seasons. He'd start 11 games during the 2005 season but was basically ineffective for the most part. The Cardinals would sign Edgerrin James before the 2006 season and Shipp's carries would be limited to an average of one per game for the last two seasons.
Who knows if Shipp's career would have turned out different had it not been August 6th, 2004. He'd suffer a dislocated ankle and broken fibula in an intrasquad scrimmage that took multiple surgeries as well as a metal plate and several pins and screws to repair. Prior to the injury he averaged 4.0 yards per carry and 8.8 yards per reception but his averages fell to 2.8 and 7.6 after his return. Shipp won't go down as a great Cardinals player but his contributions shouldn't be entirely forgotten either. He was not only a productive player but also a solid locker room presence, and willing to do whatever was asked of him including playing special teams and learning the fullback position. Here's a look at Marcel Shipp's six best games as a Cardinal:
9/29/2002 - vs. NYG - Cardinals win 21-7: The fourth game of Shipp's sophomore season would be the first game that he'd truly shine. He led the team in rushing (92 yards) and receiving (39 yards), but his biggest contribution would be two fourth quarter touchdowns (one rushing, one receiving) to lead the Cardinals to victory.
11/24/2002 - vs. OAK - Cardinals lose 20-41: Shipp's first game as a starter didn't end with a victory but you certainly wouldn't be able to tell by his numbers. He ended the game with 155 total yards (135 rushing, 20 receiving) and scored a touchdown. He averaged over 9 yards each time he touched the ball.
12/15/2002 @STL - Cardinals lose 28-30: For the fourth time during the '02 season, Shipp would lead the team in rushing and receiving. He'd end up with 158 total yards (79 rushing, 79 receiving) and he'd score 3 touchdowns. The highlight of this game would be Shipp's longest play from scrimmage, a screen pass that he took 80 yards for a touchdown.
10/26/2003 vs. SF - Cardinals win 16-13: This was his second game as a starter in 2003 and he'd end up with a career high in carries (35) and yards (165). On a day when the entire Cardinal offense could only muster 314 yards, his 165 would lead the team to an overtime victory over the divisional rival Niners.
11/2/2003 vs. CIN - Cardinals win 17-14: Shipp's second consecutive 100 yard game would lead to the second consecutive three point victory for the Cardinals. He'd end the day with 141 yards on 29 carries (4.9 avg) and 90 of his yards would come in the second half as the Cardinals clung to a three point lead. His 165 total yards were more than half of the Cardinals offense (304) that day as well.