For much of the season, fans have been asking for Cordarrelle Patterson to have a bigger role in the Vikings offense. Having seen the electricity he brings to the field as a kick returner, his role continues to expand in the Vikings overall scheme of things.
Patterson has become a more integral part of the Vikings offense. He is currently tied for third on the team in receptions with 30 and is showing flashes of the skills that made him a one-year wonder at Tennessee and a player many scouts valued as a first-round draft pick.
It has taken a while, but Patterson has been slowly incorporated into the Vikings offense and, as he's sees it, more is better.
"It feels good to be bigger part of the offense – seeing the game plan and you're number being called more and more," Patterson said. "I'm here for whatever the coaches want. I can't say, ‘Play me more.' You only can control what you can control and, as a rookie, you have to adapt. Everyone here was a starter in college. In the NFL you have to have a role that can turn into a starting job at some point."
Patterson's versatility was on display in last Sunday's game with Chicago when he switched places with the tailback – Patterson lining up in the backfield and Toby Gerhart lining up out wide. It confused the Bears defense and Patterson made them pay, breaking off a 33-yard touchdown run. It marked the third different way that he has scored this season, along with two long kickoff return touchdowns and a receiving TD.
While Patterson was itching to get involved in the offense, he learned early on that he was going to be brought along slowly with the offense and that his initial focus would to be a dynamic return specialist. While many assumed he was going to be a replacement for Percy Harvin, who made an immediate impact on the offense as a rookie and pet project of Brett Favre, the Vikings had different plans for Patterson.
"The plan was to get me a special-teams player first," Patterson said. "When I came here the focus was to get me to learn everything I needed to know about being a returner. Each week I'm getting more involved. That was the plan and now I'm more involved in the offense. I hope it continues like that."
In a fashion reminiscent of Harvin, who ran out of the backfield in a classic running back position as opposed to taking reverses, Patterson hit the hole with authority and raced into the end zone Sunday. It looked like he had been working as a de facto running back for some time. The truth is that he was. He had been working on that play since Week 2 and was waiting for the play to get called for almost three months.
"We've been working on that for a long time and finally brought it out last week," Patterson said. "I hope they keep me back there and give me more touches. Being back there with Adrian would be awesome, but I'd have to get more touches."
Like the other receivers on the Vikings roster, Patterson has had to endure the revolving door at quarterback, which has included a switch from Christian Ponder to Matt Cassel to Josh Freeman to Ponder to Cassel to Ponder to Cassel. It's been a confusing time with players coming in and out of the lineup, but Patterson said it hasn't been an adjustment working with the team flip-flopping between Ponder and Cassel much of the season because Ponder has been the primary starter and he and Cassel have built a strong bond over the season.
"I work with Christian and Matt every day in practice, so for me there won't be any adjustment at all," Patterson said. "My locker is right beside Matt's. He talks to me more than enough. I sit down and listen to all the great things he's got to say. He's been helping me ever since I got here – him and Greg (Jennings). I'm just happy to work with both of them."
With his role in the offense expanding and his game-breaking ability in the return game obvious, Patterson is looking forward to making more of an impact on the Vikings in whatever role he's asked to do.
"I'm happy with how things have gone," Patterson said. "I understood where the coaches were coming from and what their plan was for me. Whatever they want me to do, I'm willing to do. You've been able to see my role in the offense increasing and I'm looking forward to doing more to help us win games."
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Patterson ‘feels good' being more involved
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