Mike Zimmer was bombarded by questions about little-used receiver Cordarrelle Patterson on Monday, and finally the Vikings coach drew the line.

“We make this thing out to be way bigger than it is,” Zimmer said. “Wanna talk about [quarterback] Teddy [Bridgewater]?”

Zimmer downplayed any sort of rift between himself and Patterson after the player expected to be the Vikings’ top receiver at the start of the season was in for only three snaps on offense in a 31-13 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. Patterson was used sparingly because he missed two practices last week, Zimmer reiterated. Patterson left the team Tuesday and participated Friday in his only practice leading up to the game.

Charles Johnson made his second consecutive start over Patterson, who didn’t receive his first snap until the second half.

“I’m going to keep saying this over and over until somebody believes me — I am in this guy’s corner,” Zimmer said about Patterson. “The biggest thing for me is [the speculation] that, ‘We don’t want him in there, we don’t want to do this or we don’t want to do that.’ That’s ridiculous. I want every one of our players to be good and be great. We all want instant gratification, including myself, but sometimes it takes a little bit longer than it does.”

Zimmer compared Patterson’s situation to some players he coached during his tenure as Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator during the previous six seasons. He said there were some that were groomed at the start of their careers that turned out to be great players for him.

“I feel that way about Cordarrelle,” Zimmer said. “He’s going to be a good player. I don’t have any doubts in my mind.”

Harris fits in

Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson (one of three Charles Johnsons to play in the game, by the way) recorded one of three sacks allowed by the Vikings, but Zimmer said he thought offensive tackle Mike Harris held his own in his first start at right tackle this season.

“I thought he did well,” Zimmer said. “He battles hard, he competes. He had a couple of rough plays, but I thought for the first time he did well.”

Harris had a similar assessment of his performance after the game. Harris replaced Phil Loadholt, who was placed on injured reserve with a torn pectoral muscle, to get his first start since Oct. 6, 2013. It was Harris’ 13th career start.

“[Johnson’s] a good guy,” Harris said. “He’s got a good counter move. He’s got good hands. That’s something I need to go back and work on, watch film and see what I can improve on. Each week there’s going to be a good defensive end I’ve got to deal with.”

Keep ’em cold

The NFL sent a reminder to all 32 teams not to heat footballs with artificial heaters because of an instance caught during the Vikings-Panthers telecast.

A camera showed a sideline attendant holding out two footballs over a heater because of the frigid temperatures, which is against NFL rules. League vice president of officiating Dean Blandino said on the NFL Network that both teams were warned during the game.

“The only thing I heard was that it was their sideline,” Zimmer said. “Was it theirs? Or was it ours? … Someone told me their ball boys were doing it.”

Injury update

Zimmer said linebacker Anthony Barr and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd do not have any structural damage to their knees after missing most of the second half against the Panthers.

They’ve both dealt with lingering knee injuries they aggravated during the second half Sunday.

Bud’s road

Zimmer started his news conference congratulating Hall of Fame and former Vikings coach Bud Grant for having a street named after him near the new Vikings stadium. Grant was present at the unveiling on 9th Avenue S., which was once known as Carew Drive.

Zimmer couldn’t make the ceremony but wore a Bud Grant pin at the podium.

“I think it’s great not only for me and everything that he’s done for coaches and coaching, but also for the fans,” Zimmer said. “I might get my picture taken in front of the post there.”