Cordarrelle Patterson is looking forward to Thursday night, hoping he is able to play for the first time since an offseason in which he says he was more studious and believing he is better prepared to become a relevant NFL receiver.
Patterson’s production has been declining each of the past two seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, and so have his opportunities. Coaches have talked in the past about him needing to be more consistent with his route-running.
After suffering a shoulder injury in his first training camp practice with full pads on, Thursday night against the Seattle Seahawks could be his first chance to put his increased preparation into action.
“Really just doing the right things consistent,” head coach Mike Zimmer said of his hopes for Patterson. “Having the opportunity to make a play, make it. It’s like everybody else.”
The fourth-year receiver sounds like he got the message.
“I’m not really looking for anything. I just want to be out there knowing my number is called to make a play,” Patterson said. “Don’t be that guy when your number is called (and) and you’re not lining up right, you drop the ball or something. You have so much going on in your mind. At the end of the day you’ve just got to zone everything out and just be focused and be better than what they say you are. Just go out and do what you’re supposed to do.”
Patterson is expected to still be the Vikings’ top kickoff returner, but preseason games are a starting point where he can earn the trust of his coaches and his quarterback. Unfortunately, his shoulder injury shortened his preseason by at least one game.
“It’s good. I’m not going to say it’s 100 percent right. It’s good. You get out there. I’m going to be out Thursday warming up and if it feels great I’ll be out there and ready to go,” he said of his shoulder injury.
“Of course it’s frustrating. It always is to miss anything. To come back, there’s nothing I can do about missing that game. It was an injury and I wish it didn’t happen, but it did. I’m just trying to look forward and move on.”
The past is likely frustrating for him to dwell upon.
After catching 45 passes for 469 yards and four touchdowns as a rookie, his production has dropped the last two years, a time that coincides with Zimmer becoming the head coach and Norv Turner the offensive coordinator.
In 2014, Patterson had 33 catches and a touchdown. Last year, he caught only two passes for 10 yards.
“It’s all behind me, man. I try not to worry about what happened yesterday. I’m just trying to look forward. Whatever happens in the past happens in the past,” he said. “God gave you eyes in the front of your head to see where you’re going, not where you’ve been. I just want to move forward. When Thursday comes, whether I play or not – hopefully I play, I should play – so I want to be out there. I know I need to be out there. A lot of people are worrying about what I’m going to do and stuff like that, so it’s a great time for me.”
Patterson said his route-running is the biggest improvement he made in the offseason. But he isn’t about to make an bold statements about what he intends to do with the opportunity that should be coming soon, likely knowing that his actions will speak louder than words.
“I just want to get out there. I want to let my play speak for itself,” he said. “I don’t want to say ‘I want to show this and do that’ and don’t it. I just want to get out there and just grind hard and work hard and good things will happen.”