Cordarrelle Patterson believes everyone knows what he can do, but an injury early in training camp was keeping him from showing the progress he believes he has made.
Patterson came down hard on his left shoulder after making an impressive catch on Sunday, the first day of full pads of Minnesota Vikings training camp, and walked off the field. Monday was the first day he was back working during full-contact drills.
“It’s frustrating, but God has a plan so you really can’t point a finger at anybody. That’s all on me,” Patterson said. “I wish the thing didn’t happen, but everything happens for a reason. I’m in the training room three or four times a day trying to get fully healthy and get ready for the season to get here.”
The kick returner and receiver had been taking some reps in walk-throughs and limited work in pads before returning in full Monday, but his status going forward with a few days of practices against the Cincinnati Bengals and the opening preseason game on Friday night remains to be seen. He said he doesn’t have any expectations on when he’ll be cleared to play.
The missed time could hurt Patterson’s chances to contribute regularly on offense. Last year, he had only two catches and was used mostly on plays in which the Vikings ran the ball.
This offseason, he has maintained his work ethic and study habits have improved.
“I seen a lot of errors in my game that I can fix,” he said. “I just took a lot of time out going down and working out with Teddy (Bridgewater) for a week, working out with him every chance I got. I had a trainer I was with this offseason as well.”
He lost a few pounds and came to camp in shape, he said.
Yet, the feeling among many is that 2016 is a make-or-break season for him, at least with the Vikings. He is in the final year of his contract was the only one of the three first-round picks for the Vikings in 2013 that didn’t have the fifth-year option of his rookie contract exercised by the team.
“I don’t pay no attention (to outside speculation) because I know what I can do. Everybody just needs an opportunity and when they get an opportunity I know my time’s coming,” he said. “I’m not rushing nothing. If it happens here, it happens. If it don’t, it don’t. I just keep praying about things. I would love to stay here in Minnesota. This is where I got drafted at and I wouldn’t want to be no other place, but if things change and it don’t happen I just have to take my talent somewhere else.”
At the least, Patterson is expected to be the Vikings’ top kick returner, and he has been one of the best in the league at doing that since he entered the NFL.
But it’s hard to say where he stands in the wide receiver rotation after missing more than a week of practice with his shoulder injury.
“Of course it’s hard. I’m out there just watching those guys make a lot of plays and I want to be out there making plays with them,” he said. “I’m not a selfish guy. I love all my receivers and I feel like we’ve got a great receiving corps, probably one of the best we’ve had. Everybody’s out there working hard. No one is slacking. We’ve said that from the jump. No one is going to let no one slack.”
Despite his limited opportunities on offense last year, Patterson doesn’t lack confidence in his skills. He got the most opportunities his rookie season, when he produced 45 catches for 469 yards and four touchdowns. Since then, however, his production dropped each successive year.
“Film don’t lie, man. You seen what I did my rookie year. I don’t think it’s going to surprise,” he said. “It’s just about getting the opportunity and doing what I’m supposed to do – being in the right place, lined up in the right spot and not running the wrong route.”
He’s willing to be mainly a kick returner this year, but he claims to have worked harder than ever before in becoming a better receiver.
“I’m studying the plays like I’ve never studied before. Just not being out there and getting mental reps is good, too. But missing time, it’s a struggle, but at the end of the day you can’t control what happens,” he said. “You can’t control no injury. Nobody wants to be injured, but things happen in life that will get you a setback. It’s just how I bounce back on it and come back stronger than I’ve ever been.”