Flacco Was Always a Cool Hen

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When Arizona Cardinals tight end Ben Patrick suits up this weekend for Super Bowl XLIII, he'll be catching passes from 37-year-old Kurt Warner.

Only two years ago, he was running routes for a confident and calm 20-year-old named Joe Flacco when the duo spent a season together at the University of Delaware.

But despite the difference in ages between the two signal callers, Patrick sees similarities, most notable in their on-field demeanor.

Warner has won throughout his career with a steely resolve that is evident even in the most high-stress situations.

The same could be said for Flacco. Nicknamed "Joe Cool" for his unflappable nature, Flacco guided the Ravens to the AFC Championship and a 13-6 campaign during stellar rookie season.

He was just as impressive for the Blue Hens.

"During the year I was with him at Delaware, he was always poised, cool, calm and collected," Patrick said during the Cardinals' Media Day in Raymond James Stadium. "Kurt's a little more outspoken, but he still has that demeanor that is collected in the huddle.

"Even in our last drive against the Eagles, with two minutes left and a chance to win the game, we were all excited, but he calmed us down and told us to take one play at a time. Obviously, it worked."

Patrick, 6-foot-3, 260 pounds, transferred to Delaware after earning his degree at Duke in four years.

He immediately made an impact, leading all Division I-AA tight ends in receptions with 64, while notching 639 yards and six touchdowns. Patrick also was named a first-team All-American before the Cardinals selected him in the seventh round of the 2007 NFL Draft.

During Patrick's final collegiate campaign, Flacco was also prolific. He started all 11 games and threw for 2,783 yards and 18 scores on 264-of-417 passing. His 264 completions even set a school record, one that he broke as a senior.

Even though Flacco was drafted 18th overall last year, Patrick understands the challenge of earning recognition coming out of a less-heralded program.

"Dropping down to that level, you almost have to dominate during the season, not to mention in your workouts and the Combine," said Patrick, who earned a degree in African-American Studies at Duke. "I played Division I, so that helped, but I had to put up big numbers."

"Thanks to my coaches and Joe, I was able to do that. It ended up being the best move for me. I'm happy I graduated from Duke, but I was happy to go to Delaware."

The athletic tight end also recognizes the role Flacco's strong arm played in the process. Even at Delaware, Flacco was known for zipping frozen ropes all over the field.

For the Ravens, many NFL analysts placed him among the best deep-ball throwers in the league.

"He always threw a tight spiral and was receiver-friendly when he needed to be," he continued. "He's got one of the best arms I've ever been around, college or pro."

Knowing what he knew about Flacco, and then watching the veteran Warner conduct the late-season magic that has come to define his career, Patrick felt that his former Blue Hen teammate would definitely see success on Sundays.

"I've seen highlights and tried to check up on him when I could. We've both been busy. It's been fun to watch him play."

As Warner has gone from Super Bowl-winning starter to backup, and then potentially to another Super Bowl-winning starter, it has taken that calm attitude to weather the storms along the way.

Patrick thinks Flacco would be well-served to stay that way, as well.

"From a personality standpoint, that's why I think he is successful as a quarterback," Patrick said. "You need to have that same mentality, regardless of the situation, on and off the field."

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