For the second time this week I was able to talk to one of the Arizona Cardinals. This time, it was an offensive player - tight end, Ben Patrick. Patrick was drafted in 2007 in the seventh round and although he was cut that year, he was resigned and quickly made positive impressions with the coaches as he scored two touchdowns during the regular season. Patrick has increased his catch and yard total in each of the past three seasons, and he should certainly improve next year as well. In case you weren't aware, he also caught the Cardinals first touchdown in the Super Bowl.
ROTB: The Cardinals obviously changed offensive coordinators in 2009 and there was a noticeable difference in the offense. What was the biggest adjustment between Ken Whisenhunt and Todd Haley? Do you feel that coach Whisenhunt will be calling plays next season?
Ben: I think that as an offensive unit we still had success regardless of who called the plays. I think our staff did a good job of delegating different areas for each person and then all bringing it together into one plan. So I don't think there was a huge adjustment because the terminology was all the same. Whomever calls the plays next season, we will be just fine.
ROTB: In what ways have you progressed since being drafted and how can you keep improving? What is your ultimate goal in this league?
Ben: I think through experience on and off the field, I've become a better man and player. I've gotten better at blocking, recognizing defenses, and running crisper routes. I've also learned how to manage my life better and overcome many different obstacles from being cut my rookie season to overcoming my rough start at the beginning of this season.
ROTB: What's the best part about being a player in the NFL?
Ben: Being able to have people and children look up to you and live through you. We have a big impact on many people's lives. Many that we will never know. But it's a good feeling.
ROTB: Is there another tight end past or present that you mold your game after? And if so, who and why?
Ben: Every tight end strives to be a good every down tight end. I like Heath Miller. He's not a flashy guy, but year in and year out puts up numbers and is a big part of Pittsburgh's game. He flies under the radar compared to the bigger name guys but his game is well respected.
ROTB: Now that the offseason is officially here, what do you do with your spare time? Do you stay in Arizona?
Ben: Rest my mind and body a bit. I have several trips set up to go visit family and friends. I've also got a trip set aside just for me, so I can get away from it all and recharge my mind.
ROTB: What do you see as the Cardinals biggest need for 2010? What do you guys need to change as a team?
Ben: We need to improve in every phase. Offense, Defense, and Special Teams. I'm sure there will be some off season moves that will address those needs. We have a good foundation in place and we need to continue to build on it.
ROTB: Was tight end always the position you wanted to play through high school and college? What other positions have you played and would you be able to play them in the NFL now?
Ben: Tight End is the right fit for me. I grew up a baseball player so football was relatively new in college after playing one year of highschool football.
ROTB: The Cardinals offensive line has often been criticized yet they've been able to keep Kurt Warner out of harms way. How has your blocking improved with Russ Grimm as a coach and what factors do fans often overlook when looking at the Cardinals offensive line?
Ben: Because our offense puts up big numbers and points, the foundation of our offense is overlooked. Our offensive line has been key to our success. We were able to run the ball on almost any team this season. It's something definitely overlooked in the run game and in the pass game. They gave Kurt time to pick apart secondaries all year long.
ROTB: How important is Kurt Warner to the Cardinals offense and do you believe he'll return to the team next year?
Ben: Kurt's numbers and leadership abilities speak for themselves. Obviously his return would be favored by many fans, but should Kurt retire, we have 2 more then capable quarterbacks waiting in the helm to take over in Matt Leinart and Brian St. Pierre. They both are very good quarterbacks and have the ability to lead our team to where we want to go.
ROTB: Finally, who is your hero/idol/inspiration and why?
Ben: My mother is my hero. Growing up, I watched her run her own business, raise two children, attend virtually every athletic event me and my brother participated in and was still able to separate all of those things and be my best friend. She did all this on an income of 30,000.00 year in and year out. Growing up I didn't understand it, but as a man now, it is one the most remarkable things I've ever seen. The word resilient isn't quite enough to describe her. I' call her the modern age Super Woman.
I want thank Ben Patrick for talking with Revenge of the Birds and letting us in on some information that we may not know. With the tight end position wide open right now, I see no reason why he won't be able to start next year given the talent he has shown us.