Tight end Ben Patrick must serve a four-game suspension to begin the 2009 regular season.
Ben Patrick came to the Cardinals? facility every day this offseason to work out, knowing that his 2009 season was in turmoil before it even started.
The news the tight end would be suspended for the first four games of the regular season ? for breaking the league?s policy on anabolic steroids and related substances after ingesting Adderall ? became public Tuesday through a Scout.com report.
For Patrick, though, it was a reality he knew about much longer.
?I?ve had this cloud hanging over my head all offseason,? Patrick said. ?It?s been really hard to come in and smile with the guys, knowing what was going to happen. I?m just going to try to do my best to work hard.?
Patrick called it ?definitely the toughest thing I have ever had to deal with in my life.?
Patrick said he took the Adderall to stay awake for a drive from Flagstaff to Phoenix last season.
?It was an honest mistake and it wasn?t something that was a recreational use-type thing or a drug or narcotic, it was simply a mistake on my part,? Patrick said. ?I accept that responsibility.?
The NFL confirmed the suspension Tuesday morning. Patrick can go to training camp, practice with the team and play in preseason games, but beginning Sept. 5 he is banned from the team facility and from interacting with team personnel until Oct. 12.
Cardinals general manager Rod Graves said there were not any plans to add any other tight ends to the roster. The Cards already have five others besides Patrick ? Leonard Pope, Anthony Becht, Dominique Byrd, Stephen Spach and Alex Shor.
Patrick will count against the 80-man roster during camp but will go on a suspended list to start the regular season and would not count against the Cards' 53-man roster until his suspension is over.
?Ben made a significant contribution to our success last year, he is continuing to grow as a player and not having him available is a disappointment,? Graves said. ?But we think with the group we have we can be competitive in his absence and we will see how that group comes together.?
Patrick had his 2008 season hampered by a knee problem that kept him out of five regular-season games and one of the playoff games. Still, he, along with Spach, figured to be the early favorites ? health permitting ? to win the Cards? starting job in 2009.
Patrick?s chances now figure to take a major hit. The Cards know he won?t be available for a month, so his workload in camp, especially with so many other tight ends, will likely be reduced.
?It?s always been something each year, whether it was an injury or trying to battle back,? Patrick said. ?Unfortunately, I thought I had a pretty good offseason and now I?ve hurt my chances of winning the position or making the team. All I can do is work as hard as I can in camp, make sure I am on my P?s and Q?s and hopefully I?ll get another opportunity.?
Asked about the multitude of banned substances NFL players must monitor, Patrick said ?that?s no excuse for me.?
?For me personally, it wasn?t anything that was going to make me run faster or help me have more fun,? Patrick said. ?It was just something to help keep me awake. Now I have to deal with the consequences.?
Contact Darren Urban at firstname.lastname@example.org. Posted 6/16/09. Updated 6/16/09.