Cordarrelle Patterson is expected to see an increased role in the Vikings offense this week.
Patterson, the third of three Vikings first-round picks this year, hasn't been a focal point of the offense yet because he plays the same receiver position, split end, as veteran Jerome Simpson. But Simpson was charged with two counts of DWI this week and could have his playing time reduced because of that.
It's an opportunity Patterson has been looking for, and fellow receiver Greg Jennings believes the rookie is ready.
"He's studied the playbook. He's improved with his comfortability out there on the field and what he's asked to do, and he's naturally a playmaker. That's going to show up once he's comfortable and that's what you're seeing," Jennings said.
"I think he's very comfortable. His confidence level is high. He's made plays so he knows that he can continue to make plays. It's just a matter of getting opportunities."
Jennings said Simpson and Patterson could complement each other, and the Vikings had begun exploring ways to get them on the field at the same time recently. To date, Patterson has played in only 26.4 percent of the offensive snaps, 14th among rookie receivers this year, according to STATS LLC, while Simpson has been in for 66.1 percent of the snaps.
But Simpson's legal issues could put into motion an increased workload for Patterson and a decreased one for Simpson.
Patterson said there wasn't a big learning curve for him, but coaches have pointed consistently to his lack of exposure to big-time football after only one season at Tennessee. Jennings sees in Patterson a playmaker ready to be put on front-and-center display.
"He's ready. He's ready. He's ready. He's put in the work. He's put in the preparation. Now it's about just going out and if he is put in a position where he has to play on consecutive downs throughout the game, he's definitely ready," Jennings said.
"… When he gets the ball in his hands, he's very elusive. It's just a matter of getting the ball in our hands and allowing us to do what we do."
Jennings came to the Vikings as a free agent in March and started wowing coaches and teammates with his route-running ability as soon as offseason practices began. Patterson just hasn't had as much time or coaching to refine his skills.
Enter Jennings, the mentor.
"He has the natural talent. My biggest thing with him was just coming out his breaks, staying lower out of his breaks because he's a taller guy, and just not trying to do things so fast," Jennings said. "He's one of those guys that you have to let him kind of go because he has so much natural ability.
"You can't tweak and twerk everything. A good coach knows that you can't coach everything. There's certain things you coach, there's certain things you leave alone, and he's one of those players that has that certain ability to just make plays and you just leave that alone. You let that handle itself. Sometimes, you live by it; you die by it sometimes. There are going to be sometimes where he gets a lateral and he should get upfield, but you know that most of the time if he gets lateral he'll make a couple guys miss. He may hit a home run so you've got to live by that."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Jennings says Patterson confident, ready
Viking Update Top Stories
Patterson, McKinnon remain outThe Minnesota Vikings remained without a couple of key players on offense Friday, but had one return to full participation.
Viking Update1:37 PM
VIDEO: Turner talks run game, pass proMinnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner discusses the issues in the running game, pass protection and more.
Viking Update10:47 AM
McKinnon out of boot, status still uncertainJerick McKinnon couldn’t say whether he would be able to play on Monday night, but the sprained ankle is healing.
Viking Update10:24 AM
VIDEO: Priefer breaks down mistakes in PhillyMinnesota Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer breaks down the breakdowns in Philadelphia and looks forward to Chicago.
Viking Update10:18 AM