While Cordarrelle Patterson works on refining the physical parts of his game, like route-running, he's been working on the trash-talking aspects, too.
Specifically, the offseason grudge matches between Patterson and cornerback Captain Munnerlyn started early and continued throughout the veteran minicamp, 10 organized team activities and minicamp.
The chemistry and good-natured barbs between the two of them started early, and Patterson closed minicamp last week with a public reminder to Munnerlyn that he was still ahead in the competition between big-bodied receiver Patterson and slighter-yet-physical cornerback Munnerlyn.
"He's good, but I'm up on him right now. I'm up 2-0 because I've beat him in one-on-ones twice and he hasn't beaten me yet," Patterson said. "We're going to keep that to us. We're not going to tell him because he's going to have something to say."
Patterson said that knowing full well it would get out. The smile on his face revealed as much.
But a 2-0 lead is also the score Patterson had after a practice earlier in the offseason program, too.
In some ways, it would seem like a mismatch from the outset. Patterson is 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds. Munnerlyn is 5-foot-8 and 195 pounds, but the veteran defender doesn't back down easily.
Full of self-confidence and with a persistent personality built from hardships early in his childhood, Munnerlyn won the in-game battle between the two last year. In their Oct. 13 meeting last year, when Patterson was a rookie and Munnerlyn was still with the Carolina Panthers, Patterson was held to two catches for 3 yards – the fewest receiving yards he had in a game as a rookie.
Apparently, Patterson irritated Munnerlyn during that game.
"He told me I said something bad to him, but I don't believe I would say anything like that," Patterson said. "That's Captain, that's the kind of guy he is. He likes to talk. We need that on our defense."
The fact that the Panthers won that game, 35-10, should have helped Munnerlyn's case in the budding rivalry that has worked its way from game situations to the practice regimen out of necessity of circumstance. But it sounds like Munnerlyn has been using that "look at the scoreboard" type of comeback enough to prompt Patterson's passion for the in-practice competition.
"He always brings it up, so that's why I tell you. I don't want to hear it from him," Patterson said.
Whatever it takes to keep Patterson working hard is just fine with his new offensive coordinator. So far, Norv Turner likes what he sees from Patterson, who is expected to have a much more consistent and continued role in games this year.
"He's a natural runner. He's got great instincts when he gets the ball in his hand and he makes great run decisions. He's got great vision," Turner said. "I think from day one to now he's improved as a route runner. He's been very serious about working as a route runner. I think (receivers coach) George Stewart has done a great job with him, the details of running routes.
"He's so explosive when he comes off the ball the way he's capable of coming off the ball. He creates problems for defensive backs. I think he's made great strides. We have a lot of work to do when we come back and start again in July. … I love his talent."
Patterson has been tapping plenty of teammates for help in different areas. Even after a one-on-one competition and a little trash-talking, Patterson has talked over the play for pointers from Munnerlyn. When it comes to help with route-running, veteran receiver Greg Jennings has been a help, too.
"He's an older guy and he's been here like nine years, so it's always good to lean on him and learn things or pick his brain any chance I get and just go from there," Patterson said.
And then there is his battle with fellow 2013 first-round pick Xavier Rhodes that has been part of camp.
"Me and Xavier, we're always going at it man to man. It's a brotherhood, me and him," Patterson said. "… Everyday we're competing. Sometimes I get him and sometimes he's getting me. At the end of the day, it's fun to us to help each other out."
With help from his veteran teammates, and coaches sounding like they are ready to put him in a better position to succeed, Patterson could be primed for a big season. If that's case, fans and teammates are sure to hear about it.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Patterson building competition with Munnerlyn
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