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Are the Colts Really Considering Benching Center A.Q. Shipley?

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There are rumors circulating that the Colts might bench starting center A.Q. Shipley for undrafted rookie Jonotthan Harrison.

Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts have had 307 offensive snaps this year.  On every single one of them, A.Q. Shipley has been starting at center.  But will that continue?  There has yet to be any word from the team, but other signs indicate that the Colts could be considering a change on the interior of the line.

Yesterday, rumors began circulating that the Colts might be going away from Shipley at center and starting undrafted rookie Jonotthan Harrison instead.  Of course, those were just rumors, and Colts head coach Chuck Pagano was asked about them in his press conference yesterday.  "I don't know where this stuff comes from," Pagano said. "I'd just be careful what you listen to and read. Wait until game day."  It seemed very much like a non-answer.

The Colts have yet to say anything about making a change at center, but perhaps their actions today in practice suggest otherwise.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/colts?src=hash">#colts</a> Jonotthan Harrison getting work with 1st unit at C during media portion on practice <a href="http://t.co/hkBV2mvfVU">pic.twitter.com/hkBV2mvfVU</a></p>&mdash; Mike Chappell (@mchappell51) <a href="https://twitter.com/mchappell51/status/517708229720027136">October 2, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/colts?src=hash">#colts</a> AQ Shipley working some at C, but also at both G spots. <a href="https://twitter.com/rtv6">@rtv6</a></p>&mdash; Mike Chappell (@mchappell51) <a href="https://twitter.com/mchappell51/status/517708699046264832">October 2, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

So are the Colts really considering a change at center?  A.Q. Shipley was (obviously) asked about the center position for this upcoming Sunday, and he (predictably) didn't give much insight, saying, "That's above my pay grade at this point. That's something you guys have to ask coach. Again, like every week, I'll be ready to roll if I'm the guy called upon. If not, I'll be ready to play."

He said he has not been told anything about whether he will start or not, but he said that, "I've taken reps with the first team, the second team. I've taken reps everywhere, it's center, guard. Again, we've got some injuries right now, so there's got to be some things where everybody can play."

"Haven't been told anything differently," Shipley reiterated.  "Again, preparing as the starter. If something changes, I'll be ready to do whatever they need me to."

Basically, Shipley sounds like a guy who really isn't sure of his status for this Sunday.  Chuck Pagano gave a non-answer yesterday as well.  And today in practice, Jonotthan Harrison was taking the snaps as the first team center.  The Colts have been silent so far, but perhaps that silence speaks volumes as well.  Last week, Chuck Pagano was clear on the fact that Shipley was his starting center, and he said that definitively on Wednesday.  This week, we're through Thursday and we still don't have much insight as to who is starting.  If Pagano was fully planning to start Shipley, he would likely have said so yesterday.  Instead, he really didn't answer the question and instead just said, "wait until Sunday."

To me, it sounds like the possibility of Jonotthan Harrison starting on Sunday is a very real one.  And if it does happen, I don't get it.  At all.  A.Q. Shipley has done a good job so far with the offensive line and has helped protect for the league's leading passer on the league's number one ranked offense.  He has played every single snap so far.  Chuck Pagano and Andrew Luck have both talked about how important continuity is along the offensive line.  To move to an undrafted rookie - albeit one who looked good in preseason - would be a very, very surprising one and a very, very puzzling one as well.  Chuck Pagano would need to be ready to give some answers, because there would be a lot of questions.  To have a healthy A.Q. Shipley (who has played well) and a healthy Khaled Holmes (who was projected to be the starting center all offseason) on the bench for an undrafted rookie seems like a dumb move.  Realize this isn't about Harrison - I like his talent and his potential.  But start him over a healthy Shipley and Holmes?  That's not a good idea.

Unless this is about more than his play, there is no way to justify benching A.Q. Shipley.  None.  We don't know for sure whether this is really true, because as we already mentioned these are just rumors, but there seems to be some legitimate reasons to think that Jonotthan Harrison might start at center for the Colts on Sunday ahead of A.Q. Shipley.  And if that happens, I don't get it either.