I spent some time at Winter Park this week for the Vikings veteran minicamp. It was my first time being around Mike Zimmer and observing how he handles his team.
In talking to a number of veterans, there was lot of anxiety and nerves for them being around the new coaching staff for the first time on the field. Everyone was trying to make a favorable first impression. I’ll have more on this in my Saturday column.
One guy who seemed completely relaxed was second-year receiver/returner Cordarrelle Patterson, who never seems uptight about anything.
Patterson came across even more comfortable in his press conference, which is probably a normal thing for a guy entering his second season in the league. Patterson told reporters that he wants to become a fashion designer after his football career is over (he even offered to help our veteran NFL writer Mark Craig with a fashion makeover) and also shared why he doesn’t think he could be a hockey player.
“It’s tough being out there,” Patterson said. “I tried to skate one time and it didn’t happen. Hats off to those guys. They out there every day, beating each other up, losing teeth. I got a pretty smile. I’m not trying to lose any teeth.”
Patterson became a valuable weapon on offense – and not just as a returner – as a rookie once Bill Musgrave finally gave him a chance the second half of last season. It’s a safe bet that Patterson’s playing time and role won’t be an issue under new offensive coordinator Norv Turner.
I’m curious to see Patterson’s expanded role in Turner’s offense. Turner has a terrific offensive mind. He knows how to maximize his talent, and Patterson obviously has elite athleticism and play-making ability.
Two things stood out to me in Patterson’s media session. He said he hopes to play every receiver position this season and he criticized his work ethic as a rookie.
“Last year, coming in as a rookie, you really don’t know what to expect,” he said. “I don’t think my work ethic was good enough last year. This year my whole mindset is, remember everything, do better than you did last year. I think I was kind of bad last year, this year will be way better.”
Zimmer also made a smart move by retaining wide receivers coach George Stewart, who is widely respected inside the locker room and in league circles. Stewart and Patterson have a close relationship and Stewart, a long-time receivers coach, will be valuable for Patterson’s development.
“I just want to be great,” Patterson said. “You always want to be great as a person. I feel like I've got a lot of confidence in myself. Greg [Jennings] told me that a lot coming in as a rookie, 'You've got to be more confident than anyone you know.' I just like to set the tone for myself and my teammates.”