Wide receiver and kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson is one of the Vikings players who could really benefit this season under new offensive coordinator Norv Turner, who always has made good use of big-play receivers in his offenses.
Patterson was asked what he has learned from Turner so far this offseason.
“He has taught me a lot of things,” said Patterson, one of the Vikings’ three first-round draft picks last year. “He really doesn’t want us talking about it, but he has taught me a lot of things since Day 1 when he got here. You know, I continue to talk to him before practice, and he’s a great guy.”
Clearly, the Vikings offense will be different this year with a new coaching staff, but Patterson hesitated to go into specifics.
“There’s nothing for me to talk about, to talk about the offense [specifically], but it’s different,” Patterson said. “As a player we see different things but you know not to talk about.
“It should be different. Different plays and everything is different from last year, it should be different.”
One thing that Patterson was open about is his hope that Turner’s play-calling features a few more deep routes than Patterson got to run last year with Leslie Frazier as coach and Bill Musgrave as offensive coordinator.
“I hope so! I hope I get a lot of deep balls,” Patterson said.
Last season, Patterson finished with 45 receptions for 469 yards and four touchdowns as a receiver. He had 12 carries for 158 yards (13.2 yards per catch) and three touchdowns. And he had 43 kick returns for 1,393 yards and two touchdowns, including an NFL record 109-yard return against the Packers.
Patterson was named to the Pro Bowl and to the Associated Press All-Pro first team as a kick returner.
He was asked if he felt before the 2013 season started if he would be so successful as a rookie.
“No, not really. You know just coming in and working hard and the hard work paid off,” Patterson said. “I didn’t get that much playing time like I expected to get at the beginning of the season, but at the end of the year it kind of blew up a little bit.”
He added that one thing he was confident about early on was being the team’s kick returner.
“I’ve been returning kicks my whole life, so coming into the NFL that was something I wanted to do,” he said. “So you know I got an opportunity to do that and it was a blessing.”
Patterson said that making the Pro Bowl in Hawaii as a rookie was a great achievement, but he wants to do it differently this season.
“Oh that was great, making the Pro Bowl,” Patterson said. “It was fun and I had a great experience and hopefully next year I can go as a wide receiver.”
Asked if he thinks that opposing defenses are going to come at him differently as a second-year pro after the success he had in his rookie campaign, Patterson said: “Oh it’s going to be different defenses every week we go in and play. They can’t worry about one guy, we have a lot of threats on our offense. If you focus in on one guy, other guys will be open.”
Coach K on Love
Duke and current Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski told CBS Sports Radio that he would trade with the Timberwolves for Kevin Love in an instant if he were the Cleveland Cavaliers, even if they had to give up No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins.
“I’ve coached him on two teams,” said Krzyzewski, who had Love for both the 2010 FIBA world championships and the 2012 Olympics, when the Americans won gold both times. “No pun intended, but I love Kevin Love. He’s young, too. He’s 25. He was 21 [when I first coached him]. … He’s grown. He’s terrific. I would make that trade right away.”
Coach K explained his reasoning: “You look at LeBron [James] and you have the best player in the world,” Krzyzewski said. “He’s 29. I’m not saying he’s at the end of his career, but he’s in the second half of his career, let’s put it that way. And in the first half of his career, he was becoming a great player. He was a great talent becoming a great player. That takes time — just like if Wiggins or [Anthony] Bennett are going to be great, it’s not going to happen right now. They’re great talents. LeBron is a great player right now. You do not want to waste any year of a great player’s career.”
Law on Twins
ESPN baseball reporter Keith Law recently released an updated ranking of the top five farm systems, with the Twins ranking second behind the Cubs.
Law started by talking about No. 1 prospect Byron Buxton but also pointed to the great pitching from 2013 first-round pick Kohl Stewart, saying he “is having an outstanding pro debut, throwing strikes and missing bats as a 19-year-old in low Class A, mollifying some concerns about his lack of polish and need to clean up his delivery.”
• USA Today recently ran a list predicting the 50 best college basketball players for the upcoming season. At No. 44 on the list was former Cooper standout Rashad Vaughn, who will play at UNLV. USA Today wrote: “At 6-foot-5, he’s been compared to Bradley Beal. One of the best scorers in high school last year, he had offers from Kentucky and Kansas.” At No. 7 on the list was former Apple Valley point guard Tyus Jones, who will play at Duke: “Arguably the best point guard in high school basketball last year,” went the report. “He’s drawn some comparisons to former Michigan star Trey Burke.”
• You have to give Twins minor league manager Gene Glynn credit, as he has completely turned around the fortunes of the Class AAA Rochester club. The Red Wings posted a 54-46 record through 100 games this season, their best total at that point since they went 57-43 in 2006. It is the third year in a row that Glynn’s squad has posted an above .500 record through 100 games. In the four years before he got there (2008-11), the Red Wings were a combined 62 games under .500 through the first 100 games of their respective seasons.
• Over his past five starts at Rochester, Twins top pitching prospect Alex Meyer has posted a 1.50 ERA over 30 innings with 32 strikeouts compared to just 18 hits and 13 walks.
• The word from sources in Grand Rapids is that forward Alex Illikainen, one of the best basketball recruits from the Class of 2015, has said he is thinking he will be a Gopher.
• Former Timberwolves star Kevin Garnett opted into his contract with the Brooklyn Nets for next season, which will be his 20th in the NBA. Garnett will become only the fourth player to have played 20 seasons, joining Robert Parish, Kevin Willis and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.