A.Q. Shipley was in a reflective mood Sunday night as the veteran offensive lineman headed toward the airport to board a flight to Indianapolis to rejoin the Colts.
Shipley said he was caught off guard Saturday when the Ravens cut him after he started nine games at left guard last season. Then, Shipley was happy to learn Sunday that the Colts, the team that traded him to the Ravens last year, had claimed him off waivers and were going to return him to his natural center position with a potential opportunity for playing time.
"It's definitely a good feeling to go back there," Shipley told The Baltimore Sun in a telephone interview Sunday night. "There's a lot of familiar faces and an offense I was starting to learn before I got traded. Hopefully, I get to pick up where I left off. I'm back to my natural position. It's a great opportunity.
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It was Shipley who stepped in when starter Kelechi Osemele suffered a season-ending back injury last season, holding his own against some of the better interior defensive linemen in the NFL. The 6-foot-1, 307-pounder's release was arguably the biggest surprise among the Ravens' roster cuts Saturday.
"I was definitely surprised, being a veteran guy that can play two or three positions. I thought I had a pretty good preseason," Shipley said. "It came down to a numbers game. Fortunately for me, another situation arose. Last year was very valuable for me to play a position I hadn't played before and go out there and prove I can play guard. It gave me value."
Shipley was second on the depth chart, but he was released as the Ravens went with rookie John Urschel, a fellow Penn State football alum, and Gino Gradkowski as their backup interior linemen.
"I've been around this league too long," Shipley said. "I know the business side of things. I understand keeping draft picks. I get it. John's a good kid. I'm just happy for him as a guy just getting started in this league. You just got to understand it's a business and wait for your next opportunity. You don't hold grudges. This league comes full circle. You got to be ready to roll."
Upon learning of Shipley's release, left tackle Eugene Monroe said he enjoyed playing alongside the Pennsylvania native last season.
"Me and A.Q. battled together pretty much all of last season," Monroe said Saturday. "Knowing what kind of guy he is, I know he'll stick somewhere and do well somewhere."
Shipley said he enjoyed his time in Baltimore. Now, he's ready to go back to his roots with the Colts.
"Baltimore, it's a football town," Shipley said. "The fans were phenomenal from the second I got here to the second I left. They were all rooting for me. It was one of the best situations and atmospheres in professional football.
"I couldn't have been more proud to play for them. It's an awesome franchise. It was great playing next to Eugene. He's a class act and a heck of a player to go to battle with. We had a lot of fun."