Cordarrelle Patterson played 16 offensive snaps in the first three Vikings games, and has one reception for 1 yard.
That could change Sunday in Denver. Starting wideout Charles Johnson (injured ribs) will be sidelined and Jarius Wright (hand) is questionable, so Patterson is higher in the team’s receiver rotation.
“He has an opportunity, yeah,” coach Mike Zimmer said.
Patterson’s promising 2013 rookie season — 43 receptions, four TD catches, three rushing TDs and two kickoff return scores — got him to the Pro Bowl. But in Zimmer’s first season, Patterson wasn’t used much on offense (33 catches) and was eventually benched in favor of Johnson. This season has been more of the same.
“He’s been doing a good job all along,” Zimmer said. “He just has to go out there and do it. There may be some opportunities for his this week. We’ll see.”
Patterson is eager for another chance.
“I don’t know how much more I need to prove,” he said. “When my time comes, I just got to be ready, don’t slip up and do anything stupid.
“It’s always tough for a player sitting on the sideline. You always want to be out there. When my number is called, I’ll be more than ready to get out there and just help my team win.”
The Vikings will also be without defensive end Justin Trattou (foot), safety Andrew Sendejo (knee) and cornerback Jabari Price (shoulder).
Wright injured his right hand in last Sunday’s victory over the Chargers, but he’s not sure how it happened.
“It was just on a catch in the game,” he said. “It just kind of swelled up on me. I really don’t know, but at some point, [I thought] ‘This is really hurting, I need to get it checked out.’
“I don’t think anything is broken. I didn’t get a for-sure diagnosis of what it was, but I’m sure they would tell me if it’s broken.”
Mike Wallace leads Vikings wide receivers with 12 catches, followed by Johnson (six), Wright (five) and Adam Thielen (two). Rookie Stefon Diggs has been inactive for the first three games, but could play Sunday.
Press and play
The Vikings are going against the NFL’s top-ranked defense in the Broncos, who have Pro Bowl cornerbacks in Aqib Talib and Chris Harris.
“They play a lot of man and they like to press a lot, so we’re going to have to do a good job of beating press coverage.” Wright said.
Said Zimmer: “They’re not a huge blitz team but they cover you. Their corners do a good job, Talib is playing good, Harris is good, they do a good job in there and they play tight and physical with the receivers and they can rush.
“There are times when they stay with their base defense and just take a safety out and put a corner in and play with three corners in their base defense, so they rush five guys and play a lot of man to man.”
Denver starting left tackle Ty Sambrailo (shoulder) is out, and will be replaced by former Cretin-Derham Hall standout Ryan Harris, who slides over from right tackle.
Sambrailo, the 59th overall pick, and Vikings right tackle T.J. Clemmings (110th) are two of four rookie offensive tackles who started their team’s first three games. The others are Tampa Bay’s Donovan Smith (34th overall) and St. Louis’ Rob Havenstein (57th).
“It’s unusual to have a later draft pick start but that’s the circumstance we’re in and obviously that’s the circumstance they’re in,” Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner said.
Clemmings is replacing Phil Loadholt, who is out for the season because of a torn Achilles’ tendon, at right tackle.
“[Clemmings is] playing because of an injury and it’s a challenge for a young guy to play and it’s a challenge for a young guy to go play on the road against Pro Bowl-type players, so we’ve got our work cut out for us this week,” Turner said.