Veterans intrigued by Patterson's potential

The Vikings' veterans are excited to see what Cordarrelle Patterson can do and how he will be used in the offense, and they are forming their early impressions.

What Greg Jennings brings in proven production, Cordarrelle Patterson brings in raw potential. Throw in a veteran like Jerome Simpson, who is looking to prove himself in hopes of a long-term contract and you have the Minnesota Vikings' receiving corps in a nutshell.

Coming off a season hampered by suspension and injury, Simpson is still relatively new to the Vikings. Despite seven years with the Green Bay Packers, Jennings is new Minnesota's offensive scheme and quarterback Christian Ponder. But Patterson is the true intrigue of the bunch.

"I think he's going to make an impact this year," Ponder said of Patterson. "A first-round pick, had a lot of hype coming out. I watched some film on him and he's great with the ball in his hands. And he's a taller guy. He's 6-2. He's a legitimate size receiver. We'll probably put him at the (split end) and do some things with him. We'll obviously try to get him the ball and see what he can do."

Patterson played only season of major-college football – last year at Tennessee – after spending two seasons at a junior college. Because he was only getting about five months of coaching from a Football Bowl Subdivision program like Tennessee, his route-running isn't considered pro-quality caliber just yet.

While he hasn't had the opportunity – that will come during organized team activities that start later this month – having the experience of Jennings should be an asset for Patterson. Jennings said young receivers have to first learn the terminology and then understand their role.

"It's different from college because everybody is talented on the other side of the ball. So you have to be very precise in how you run your routes, how you get open and understanding coverages," Jennings said. "That's really what helps these guys contribute early."

Although their body types are very different – Patterson is 6-foot-2 while Percy Harvin was 5-11 – the Vikings view their skill sets similarly, and likely will be looking for ways to get the ball in Patterson's hands early in the down and let him use his elusiveness to work through the defense.

Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said Patterson's role was still to be determined shortly after they drafted him, but Ponder is confident Musgrave can manufacture ways to get Patterson involved early.

"I'm sure Bill has stuff up his sleeve that we're going to do and utilize these guys. But, of course, it's a different team. We've got different guys on the team," Ponder said. "We got a lot of key pieces back with the offensive line and Adrian (Peterson) and Toby (Gerhart) and the other receivers, some new faces. We're going to utilize every single piece of this offense and these weapons we have."

Even veteran quarterback Matt Cassel took time to find out more about Patterson after he was drafted.

"I'm excited about him. He's an explosive player. I was able to watch his highlight film because I hadn't heard of him before, so I went like everybody else and YouTubed him and checked it out. It's very impressive," Cassel said. "He's a big kid. He can run. He's got explosive speed. Again, it's about him getting in here, integrating into the culture of the team and learning the offense. And by that, he can have an impact."

While Patterson had three days to work with receivers coach George Stewart during rookie minicamp, the Jennings influence is expected to be a big help, too.
"I think he's a good player, good young player. Obviously, I'm excited to work with him. I hope he's ready to work. I hope he's ready to jump right in," Jennings said. "I'm not a fan of treating a rookie like a rookie. It's all about the guy who knows the least, getting him up to speed just as quick as the guy who knows the most in the room. So that's the mindset I'm taking; hopefully that's his approach. I've already reached out to him. I'm looking forward to working with him."

Jennings said he texted with Patterson and conversed via social media in the week between Patterson being drafted and getting to rookie camp.

"He's really excited about the situation, about the opportunity. So that's a start," Jennings said. "When you're excited about something new, that's great. But when it's time to work, that's when you see what you're really made of."

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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