Former backup ready to run again

Originally Published: October 20, 2003
ESPN

TEMPE, Ariz. -- This weekend's game against San Francisco feels like an opener to Marcel Shipp.

"We're looking at starting the season over," the Arizona running back said after the Cardinals practiced Monday following three days off. "We've just got to go from there. We worked hard today, got a lot done, so hopefully that will carry over to Sunday and we'll get a win."

Reality is a 1-5 record, a three-game losing streak and a division rival coming off a strong performance. During Arizona's bye weekend, the 49ers (3-4) beat defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay 24-7.

The Cardinals went into the off-week after a 26-18 loss to Baltimore on Oct. 12. The Ravens failed to score on offense, but converted one of Jeff Blake's three interceptions into a touchdown, blocked a punt for another and kicked four field goals.

"We're 1-5," Cardinals coach Dave McGinnis said Monday. "No one is happy with where we are."

But Shipp, suddenly the team's No. 1 ball carrier again, returned in high spirits.

"It means a lot," he said. "You could tell today that everybody came back fresh. Everybody has a new attitude and they're, like, rejuvenated. It just means so much to get that rest for your body."

Shipp ran for a team-high 834 yards in 188 carries last year while starting six games.

His breakthrough second season made former starter Thomas Jones expendable, and Shipp was clearly No. 1 on the depth chart until NFL career rushing leader Emmitt Smith he signed with the Cardinals after parting ways with Dallas.

Shipp had only 15 carries until Smith broke his left shoulder blade in the second quarter against the Cowboys on Oct. 5.

That led to Shipp's start against the Ravens. He gained 61 yards, most of them by midway through the third quarter before being left out of the equation while the Cardinals tried to play catch-up.

Small wonder Shipp welcomes the new beginning.

"I just want to do something out there, execute and get some wins for this team," he said.

Center Pete Kendall believes the running game can be an asset if the offense can eliminate turnovers.

"We feel like Emmitt or Marcel, any of our backs, can be effective if we can get in a situation where we continue to run the ball throughout the game. It's no secret in this league that the longer a game is close, the bigger advantage it is for the offense, because the defenses start to wear down.

"When they can get you off the field in three plays and go catch their breath again, then the tables turn."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index