Cordarrelle Patterson’s NFL profession started with him as a purple blur for the Minnesota Vikings.
Within the second recreation of his rookie season, he took the opening kickoff 105 yards for a touchdown. In Week 8, he tied the NFL document for the longest play within the historical past of the league by taking the opening kickoff 109 yards to the house. The 6-foot-2, 216-pound rookie, who clocked in at 4.42 within the 40-yard-dash and recorded a 37-inch vertical leap on the scouting mix, scored 9 touchdowns in 2013. A promising profession absolutely was in retailer for Patterson if he performed that nicely after just one season at Tennessee that was preceded by two years of junior school soccer.
For some time, he was largely a particular groups ace who was used on gadget performs. As a kick returner he has been nice — four-time All-Professional — however he was by no means in a position to flip that ideally suited dimension and pace right into a constant risk as a large receiver. He bounced across the league for some years — with stops in Oakland, New England, and Chicago — earlier than signing with the Atlanta Falcons in 2021. On the finish of that season, the gamers voted him to the NFL High 100 record for the primary time in his profession — No. 73.
The Falcons lastly discovered a method to make Patterson a constant risk on offense. He nonetheless pulled some kick return responsibility for the Falcons, however his 18 returns that season have been the fewest of his profession. Patterson did his harm on offense, totaling 1,166 yards from scrimmage and scoring 11 touchdowns in 2021. The Falcons determined to go all in on a technique that different groups solely used sparingly — they began Patterson at working again.
During his one season with the New England Patriots in 2018, they began experimenting with him in the backfield as a true part of the running game instead of solely on jet sweeps. When he signed with the Chicago Bears, they took it one step further. In his second season with them, he carried the ball 64 times.
Then Bears’ head coach Matt Nagy saw potential in Patterson as a running back. So when quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone was promoted to passing game coordinator in 2020, Nagy asked him to take some one-on-one time with Patterson, in response to The Athletic’s Dan Pompei, and assist flip that athleticism that had been so confounding for therefore many groups right into a working again. Then when Ragone bought the job as Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator in 2021 he introduced Patterson with him.
A have a look at Patterson’s Professional Soccer Reference exhibits that the only years he has been listed as a working again are his two with the Falcons. He was their main rusher in 2021 with 153 carries for 618 yards and 6 touchdowns. Nevertheless, that didn’t imply his pass-catching days have been behind him. Actually, 2021 was his greatest season doing what the Vikings wished him to do after they drafted him within the first spherical in 2013. Patterson tied his profession excessive in receptions with 52, however this time he averaged 10.7 yards per reception and hauled in 5 touchdowns — additionally a career-high.
Patterson is choosing up this season proper the place he left off. Within the Falcons’ nail-biting 27-26 season-opening loss to the New Orleans Saints, he had one of the best dashing day of his profession, working the ball 22 instances for 120 yards and a landing.
Most NFL gamers don’t get the chance to reinvent themselves six seasons into their careers. Luckily for Patterson, as an athletic specimen, he stands out in a room stuffed with them. His athletic capability is so particular that after being declared a disappointment, and by some a bust, at 31 years outdated Patterson is now one of many extra distinctive offensive weapons within the NFL.
It’s proof that in the event you’re able to returning a kickoff 109 yards in an NFL recreation, hold round lengthy sufficient and the sport will evolve to a spot the place it’s going to discover one of the best function for you.