- Mike Sando, NFL Insider
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Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Ben Patrick's return to the Cardinals following a four-game suspension fit the profile of an overplayed pregame storyline.
Getting a starting tight end back was going to help in the long term, but the Cardinals' receivers dominate their offense. The team also couldn't know how much time Patrick might need to assimilate. Patrick wound up needing very little time, an indication he was serious when he vowed not to let down his teammates again.
Patrick's return changed the Cardinals' offense and arguably stood as a key to the success Arizona enjoyed on the tone-setting opening touchdown drive. The Cardinals had lost Patrick's replacement, Stephen Spach, to an ankle injury a week earlier. Dominique Byrd and Anthony Becht were the other tight ends on the roster.
With Patrick and Becht active, the Cardinals used two tight ends on more than 40 percent of snaps, easily a season high. That included four times during their 15-play drive to open the game. Patrick contributed immediately by sealing Seahawks defensive end Lawrence Jackson at least twice during the drive, including once with a pancake block. Patrick helped seal the edge on a 14-yard run later in the first half.
Those first-half runs should help dispel any myths about Seattle's run defense Sunday. The Cardinals averaged 5.3 yards per carry in the first half. Tim Hightower had seven carries for 36 yards. Beanie Wells had five carries for 27 yards. Arizona established the run early and Patrick was a big part of it. The Cardinals used two tight ends 13 times in the first half, three times fewer than their single-game high previously this season.
The chart below shows the Cardinals' per-game snap percentages by personnel group.
2009 Cardinals Personnel Group by Opponent
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike SandoBen Patrick's return to the Cardinals following a four-game suspension fit the profile of an overplayed pregame storyline.