Encore at No. 84? Vikings rookie Patterson has work ahead

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 20, 2013 - 6:28 AM

As a receivers coach at the University of Washington and later at Tennessee, Charlie Baggett had a go-to recruiting tool, a handy Randy Moss highlight film he’d frequently load up in hopes of generating an adrenaline spike.

Baggett wanted promising young receivers to see the total Moss package — the blazing speed, the freakish body control, the ability to snare passes no one else had a chance to catch.

On top of that, Baggett used the highlights as an entry point to share his experiences coaching Moss with the Vikings from 2000 to ’04. (For what it’s worth, that’s 425 Moss catches, 6,416 yards and 62 touchdowns worth of experience.)

So here’s the crazy thing: A few years back when Baggett took his Moss montage to recruit a 6-3, 205-pound dynamo at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas, he was instantly speaking the kid’s language.

Cordarrelle Patterson, it turned out, wore No. 84 as a tribute to his favorite receiver growing up. He always had marveled at Moss’s game-breaking skills and had used his own rare size, speed and athleticism to deliver a junior college YouTube clip that magnetized Baggett and the Volunteers his way.

So, yes, Patterson was receptive to Baggett’s courtship and landed at Tennessee in 2012. And now, as fate would have it, he’s wearing 84 for the Vikings and stimulating the imagination of all those around him.

Now consider this bold proclamation from Baggett: “When you look at just the sheer speed and athleticism, Cordarrelle may have even more explosion than Randy had. Honestly. He’s that special.”

Let your imagination run wild with that endorsement. Then do as Baggett did, take a deep breath and understand the context.

“I don’t want people misinterpreting me as saying Cordarrelle is better or will be better than Randy Moss,” Baggett said. “When it comes to everything else that’s needed to be an elite NFL receiver, he has a long way to go to reach Randy. But he definitely has that ability. He really does.”

So now here’s the puzzle that needs solving: How can the Vikings unlock Patterson’s potential and turn him into a Pro Bowler? How can they take a kid who has so much football to learn and still bring out his strengths at every stage of his education?

More than meets the eye

Eight weeks after the Vikings completed an astonishing draft-night trade, sending four picks to New England to land Patterson with the 29th selection, the consensus at Winter Park is that the rookie receiver has a rare ability to generate excitement — if the right buttons are pushed.

Yet within the organization there’s also recognition that Patterson faces an incredibly steep learning curve. And as minicamp wraps up Thursday, closing a dizzying stretch of offseason orientation, even Patterson acknowledges that the volume of information he has been asked to absorb has been eye-opening.

Just skimming the bulky playbook for the first time proved daunting for a 22-year-old who confesses he spent most of his college career as “that guy slacking in the playbook,” rarely driven to study his craft.

“I never really had time enough to learn and develop all I needed to learn,” he said. “And a lot of times you’re the best one of the field, the biggest, the fastest. You can go off your ability.”

With those admissions and because of his deficits in detailed football knowledge, some NFL teams wrote Patterson off as unmotivated. The Vikings, however, sensed something different and upon playing host to Patterson during their pre-draft Top 30 event in April, receivers coach George Stewart set out to learn what made the kid tick.

“I needed to know what I was getting,” Stewart said.

Stewart knew Patterson carried a label in some circles as “a knucklehead” with a remedial understanding of the game. He was aware of outside criticism that cast Patterson as sometimes arrogant and standoffish.

But Stewart wanted to make his own judgments. So in a one-on-one session, he and Patterson had a heart-to-heart, talking about so much beyond football, instantly creating a bond and a deeper trust that will prove vital to the teaching process.

“Sitting down with so many coaches from other teams, all they wanted to know was about football,” Patterson said. “Coach Stewart already knew I could play, and he already knew what I needed to improve on. So he sat down to get to know me, my family, my personality.”

Taking it slow

The push to draft Patterson was never a blind leap of faith. During the pre-draft process, the Vikings began brainstorming strategies for how to create an optimal learning environment if they were fortunate enough to land the receiver.

It’s no coincidence that Patterson’s Winter Park locker stall is sandwiched between receiver Greg Jennings’ and quarterback Matt Cassel’s. Both veterans already have been, in the rookie’s words, “a huge help.”

And while the coaching staff knows it needs Patterson to get up to speed as soon as possible, it also has been conscious not to dump three gallons of water into a pint glass.

“Everyone learns different,” Patterson said. “Some people take it slower. For me, I don’t like having a lot of stuff thrown at me at one time. Because I start to feel like I’ll never catch up.”

Added Stewart: “It’s like a puzzle. The pieces have to connect. The concepts have to connect. You can’t start that 1,000-piece puzzle with a piece over here, a corner piece over there, another corner piece way out here. Because then none of it makes sense.”

Stewart lauds Patterson’s understanding of the game and has identified him as “a visual conceptual learner” who responds best when shown what to do.

“He can see things,” Stewart said. “His visual conception of things is outstanding. If you talk it to him, it doesn’t click. When you put it on the board, he sees it, he understands it, he lights up.”

The Vikings’ hope is Patterson will be lighting it up weekly come September, quickly emerging as a significant factor in a passing attack that needs so many more big plays.

Yet while the rookie knows the lofty demands from fans will only swell from here, he’s thankful he landed with an organization that’s investing energy in his growth. And he’s constantly reminding himself to run his own race.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Toronto - LP: D. Hutchison 2 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Tanaka 5
Washington - WP: S. Strasburg 2 FINAL
Miami - LP: N. Eovaldi 1
NY Mets - WP: J. deGrom 10 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: E. Santana 2
Boston - WP: J. Kelly 3 FINAL
Baltimore - LP: M. Gonzalez 2
Milwaukee - LP: W. Peralta 0 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: V. Worley 1
Chicago WSox - WP: J. Danks 10 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: N. Karns 5
Cleveland - WP: C. Kluber 7 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: A. Swarzak 2
Detroit - LP: R. Porcello 2 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: J. Guthrie 5
Seattle - LP: H. Iwakuma 3 FINAL
Houston - WP: C. McHugh 8
Los Angeles - WP: C. Perez 8 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Turner 5
Texas - WP: S. Tolleson 2 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: H. Street 1
Philadelphia - LP: M. Gonzalez 6 FINAL
Oakland - WP: S. Doolittle 8
San Francisco - LP: R. Vogelsong 2 FINAL
San Diego - WP: I. Kennedy 8
Arizona - LP: W. Miley 3 FINAL
Colorado - WP: C. Bergman 8
Cincinnati - WP: A. Simon 7 FINAL
St. Louis - LP: L. Lynn 2
San Diego 22 FINAL
Buffalo 10
Dallas 34 FINAL
St. Louis 31
Washington 34 FINAL
Philadelphia 37
Houston 17 FINAL
NY Giants 30
Minnesota 9 FINAL
New Orleans 20
Tennessee 7 FINAL
Cincinnati 33
Baltimore 23 FINAL
Cleveland 21
Green Bay 7 FINAL
Detroit 19
Indianapolis 44 FINAL
Jacksonville 17
Oakland 9 FINAL
New England 16
San Francisco 14 FINAL
Arizona 23
Denver 20 FINAL
Seattle 26
Kansas City 34 FINAL
Miami 15
Pittsburgh 37 FINAL
Carolina 19
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Columbus 4 FINAL
Carolina 3
Buffalo 0 FINAL
Washington 1
St. Louis 3 FINAL
Columbus 4
Calgary 1 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Edmonton 0 FINAL
Calgary 1
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(12) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(9) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
North Carolina 41 FINAL
(23) East Carolina 70
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 33 FINAL
(20) BYU 41
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
SMU 6
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
Utah 26 FINAL
Michigan 10
Florida 21 FINAL
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 FINAL
FIU 3
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Indiana 31 FINAL
Missouri 27
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Minnesota 24
Texas State 35 FINAL
Illinois 42
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Georgia State 14 FINAL
Washington 45
Appalachian St 20 FINAL
Southern Miss 21
(14) Miss State 34 FINAL
(17) LSU 29
Northern Ill 14 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Middle Tennessee 17 FINAL
Memphis 36
Utah State 14 FINAL
Arkansas State 21
Miami-Ohio 24 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Idaho 24 FINAL
Ohio U 36
Ball State 23 FINAL
Toledo 34
(13) So Carolina 48 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
(4) Oklahoma 45 FINAL
West Virginia 33
Ga Southern 28 FINAL
South Alabama 6
UNLV 14 FINAL
Houston 47
Miami-Florida 31 FINAL
(21) Nebraska 41
New Mexico 38 FINAL
New Mexico St 35
Clemson 17 FINAL
(1) Florida State 23
California 45 FINAL
Arizona 49
San Diego St 7 FINAL
Oregon State 28
(2) Oregon 38 FINAL
Washington St 31
Louisiana 9 FINAL
Boise State 34
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(24) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(11) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(25) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(12) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(9) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
NC State
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(22) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(13) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
North Carolina 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Clemson
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(17) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Duke 9/27/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(8) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(21) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(18) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Chivas USA 0 FINAL
Toronto FC 3
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 23 FINAL
Hamilton 25
Calgary 15 FINAL
Montreal 31
Ottawa 32 FINAL
Saskatchewan 35
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close