Patterson: ‘This is going to be the year’

Cordarrelle Patterson is trying hard to forget last year and still let it fuel improvement for 2015.

Cordarrelle Patterson has let his mind linger on his professional disappoint of 2014 long enough.

He has spent time reflecting on it. He has talked with his Minnesota Vikings coaches about. He has discussed it with his agent. And, for the past few months, he’s been trying to do something about it.

“I feel like every year, you’ve got to have a different mindset. This year, I feel like this year is going to be the year. It will make me or break me,” he said.

“This whole offseason, I spent a lot of time just thinking to myself, ‘How can I get better?’ We have added Mike Wallace and we let Greg (Jennings) go. I’m going to miss him, but you know, that’s part of the game. So we got Mike Wallace. He’s a speed guy.”

Patterson said the team’s goal is to take it one step at a time, but that’s also a relevant model for himself.

He didn’t get many opportunities on offense at the start of his rookie season, but once the Vikings felt confident enough in his knowledge of the old offense under then-coordinator Bill Musgrave, Patterson began to flourish as a versatile weapon.

He finished his rookie season with 45 catches for 469 yards and four receiving touchdowns, 12 rushes for 158 yards and three touchdowns and became one of the best kickoff returners in the game, averaging 32.4 yards and returning two for touchdowns.

Last year, however, was the opposite. He entered the season as a starter, but by Week 10 that role had been usurped by Charles Johnson, who was a Sept. 20 addition to the roster.

Patterson ended with 117 yards and one touchdown rushing, 384 yards and one touchdown receiving and averaged “only” 25.6 yards on kickoff returns.

“I don’t feel like I’m trying to set anything,” Patterson said when asked about setting expectations for this year. “Like I said, not worried about last year, it’s a new year for me and new opportunity for me and all my teammates. To have a winning season and get on the right path, and just try to move forward.”

That said, route-running was one of his main focuses of the past few months. Patterson’s imposing physical presence – a unique blend of size and speed – has gotten him this far, but he realizes that athleticism only goes so far in the NFL.

“Growing up, I was always athletic and could just do anything. I’m in the NFL now so I just have to focus on my craft and just work at route running, getting in and getting out of breaks and stuff like that,” Patterson said.

“… As the year was going on, I feel like my year was going down and it just felt like it was getting worse for me. I felt like I was letting my whole team down and the coaches. I feel like I have a lot to prove this year to everyone, fans and everybody else. So, this year, like I said, this year is going to make me or break me. I hope I step up this year and have a good role in this offense.”

He didn’t attend a get-away in another part of California with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and other receivers. Instead, Patterson spent most of the offseason in San Francisco working to improve the finer points of being an NFL receiver, likely an initiative suggested by head coach Mike Zimmer, who said he had a yet-unidentified mentor for Patterson to work with this offseason.

Patterson hopes it all comes full circle and he can put together a full season of production and trustworthy route running.

“I try to say that last year didn’t happen, but it really did happen so sometimes I found myself always thinking about last year and I have to get past that,” he said. “(Receivers coach George Stewart) always taught me that God gave you eyes on the front of your head so you can see where you’re going. I’ve just got to keep that mindset. Just let last year go and just get better.”

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