Cordarrelle Patterson knew that 2016 would be a make-or-break season for him with the Vikings long before they declined in May to pick up a fifth-year option that could keep the receiver from reaching free agency at season’s end.
Even after catching only two passes in 2015, Patterson insists he didn’t drastically change up his offseason routine. But his improved focused and more acute attention to detail has caught the eye of coach Mike Zimmer this spring.
“He’s not making mental errors — very, very few mental errors,” Zimmer said Tuesday. “He’s running the routes at the proper depth, he’s lining up in the proper place. I don’t know that it’s ever been an issue with athletic ability with him, but maybe sometimes the focus. [Before Tuesday’s practice] he said, ‘I’m going to get better today.’ In the past, it maybe was not all about that.”
Patterson, who worked mostly with the second-team offense during Wednesday’s minicamp practice, will say that he always has worked on his craft during his downtime. And for the second consecutive offseason, he did Navy Seal-type training with Frank Matrisciano, a fitness guru based in San Francisco.
One thing he says he changed was making sure to get the most of the informal workouts organized by Teddy Bridgewater that took place in Florida in early April. He feels the extra time with the quarterback has been beneficial.
“I have always tried to bust my tail. But I guess you can say I’ve been a little better at it,” Patterson said. “Like Coach Zimmer said, it’s about being where the quarterback needs me. And it’s probably paying off for me.”
Peterson’s high hopes
Running back Adrian Peterson does not typically enjoy all those long, hot practices during training camp. But this summer he will have a reason to actually be excited, at least a little bit, about reporting to Mankato.
“I am excited as far as what we have and the vision that we have for this season,” he said. “So that will make it a lot better going into camp this year.”
Peterson said the defending NFC North champions shouldn’t be shy about their aspirations of making it to the Super Bowl. And he playfully said that if any of his teammates haven’t yet bought in, they should pack their bags.
“We have a long way to go, but we have the pieces of what it takes to accomplish that. So there’s nothing wrong with saying it,” the 10-year veteran said. “If any other guy on this team don’t feel that way, we should trade him and bring somebody in that feels that [we can win a title]. We all know what we are trying to accomplish, and I feel like we have what it takes.”
During his time with the Cincinnati Bengals, which included a couple of years under Zimmer, Emmanuel Lamur mostly played strongside linebacker. But after Lamur signed as a free agent with the Vikings this offseason, Zimmer moved him over to the weakside linebacker spot.
Lamur, who is behind Chad Greenway on the depth chart, welcomed the change because he won’t be required to do as much jostling on the line of scrimmage.
“It gives me the ability to do what I’m good at, which is going to the ball and being instinctive and being free,” Lamur said. “I won’t be touched as much, especially with the good defensive tackles that we have here.”
Starting left guard Alex Boone missed another practice Wednesday because of an undisclosed injury. Fellow guard Mike Harris, defensive tackles Sharrif Floyd and Bruce Gaston, tight end Rhett Ellison and outside linebacker Travis Lewis also remained sidelined during the second day of the three-day minicamp.
Pro Bowl outside linebacker Anthony Barr and starting nose tackle Linval Joseph participated in practice but again were held out of team drills.
Andre Smith, who has split first-team reps at right tackle with Phil Loadholt this spring, left practice because of an undisclosed injury and did not return.