The Vikings drafted Cordarrelle Patterson with their third of three first-round picks in April. The front office felt strongly about Patterson. With just one year of Division I football at Tennessee, the Vikings made it clear during training camp in Mankato that Patterson was going to be brought along at the team's pace. When the coaches felt comfortable with him taking on a larger role in the offense, he would get his chance.
If you were to look at a textbook version of how to slowly, methodically increase a player's role into an offense, look no future than the Patterson Project. The numbers of plays isn't the critical stat. You can have 45 offensive plays in one game and 75 in the next. What is key is the percentage of plays Patterson has been on the field.
The numbers have gone up slightly, but incrementally, in each and every game from the start of the season until now. How have the Vikings used him? That has depended on who has been at quarterback – a revolving door this season.
A game-by-game breakdown of Patterson's snaps shows that he has been used in a small but growing role in the Vikings offense.
Week 1 at Detroit (5 offensive plays/9 percent of offensive snaps) – Targeted once, he caught the pass for 10 yards.
Week 2 at Chicago (6/9) – Targeted twice, he caught both passes for 14 yards.
Week 3 vs. Cleveland (19/24) – Targeted four times, he caught two passes for 49 yards, including a 37-yard pass that displayed the big-play potential he could bring to the offense.
Week 4 vs. Pittsburgh (13/25) – Targeted twice, he caught one pass for nine yards.
Week 6 vs. Carolina (19/31) – Targeted twice, he caught two bubble screens for three yards.
Week 7 at New York Giants (22/31) – Targeted a career-high six times, he caught three passes for 22 yards.
Week 8 vs. Green Bay (15/32) – Targeted three times, he caught two passes for 26 yards.
Week 9 at Dallas (26/37) – Targeted four times, he caught three passes for 13 yards.
Week 10 vs. Washington (21/40) – Targeted four times, he caught two passes for 22 yards and his first career touchdown.
Patterson has yet to have the breakout game that will put him on the map, but he is one of only three Vikings with a reception in every game (Greg Jennings and Jerome Simpson being the others) and his playing time is increasing on a weekly basis. The fact he was targeted the most in the one game that Josh Freeman started could be a precursor of things to come.
Head coach Leslie Frazier and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave have both been asked repeatedly during the season when the team would give Patterson his shot. Considering that his playing time has increased in every game since the start of the season, it can only be assumed that his latest number of 40 percent will be increased in the coming weeks. The arrest of Simpson, who plays the same position as Patterson, on suspicion of DWI could provide more impetus in Patterson's ascension.
Barring a plateau of the trending number that hasn't taken a backward step in nine weeks, by the end of the season, we will likely know much more about the full extent of the potential for Patterson in the Vikings offense. We've already seen, much like Percy Harvin in his rookie season. what a difference he can make in the return game. Now the question is, will we know by the end of the season where he stands in terms of his contribution to the offense?
The numbers would say yes.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
Patterson's offensive chances keep increasing
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