Cordarrelle Patterson has heard people compare his talent and skill set to that of Percy Harvin since the night the Vikings selected him with the 29th overall pick in the NFL draft this past spring.
Enough already, the rookie wide receiver said Wednesday.
“I’m me, I can’t be nobody else,” Patterson said. “Why would I want to be Percy Harvin? I’m trying to set my own standards. I come in each day trying to get better and just be what CP can do, not what Percy Harvin can do. I just have to be myself.”
Those Harvin comparisons became an unavoidable story line that included a touch of irony this week as the Vikings prepare to play at Seattle. Harvin, the former Vikings star, appears ready to make his Seahawks debut after returning from a hip injury, while Patterson could make his first NFL start thanks to Jerome Simpson’s legal trouble.
Harvin returned to practice Wednesday, though Seahawks coach Pete Carroll indicated Harvin’s status won’t be determined until later in the week.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier hinted that Simpson could be benched in favor of Patterson after Simpson was formally charged Wednesday with two counts of drunken driving following his arrest early Saturday morning.
Frazier said he expects Simpson to play, but he didn’t commit to him remaining as the starter.
“I don’t know how we’ll handle that part of it,” Frazier said.
Simpson faces a gross misdemeanor of third-degree drunken driving (refusing to submit to a chemical test) and a misdemeanor charge of fourth-degree drunken driving (operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol). His first appearance in Hennepin County court is scheduled for Dec. 11.
Frazier expressed his disappointment in Simpson for the second time in three days Wednesday.
“Anytime something negative happens that creates a negative light on our organization, on our team, it’s a concerning matter,” Frazier said.
Frazier said the team is consulting with the league to determine what it is permissible in terms of possible discipline under the collective bargaining agreement. Simpson faces harsher punishment by the league because he pleaded guilty to a felony drug charge in Kentucky before joining the Vikings.
His latest trouble opens the door for the Vikings to give Patterson a more prominent role in the offense, something Frazier said already was in the works.
“That was a part of the plan anyway,” Frazier said, “and it definitely will be a part of the plan now with some of the concerns that we have.”
Patterson’s playing time has become a weekly flash point for fans who are bewildered by his limited role on offense. Patterson already has made his mark as one of the NFL’s most dangerous kickoff returners, but the coaching staff has kept him mostly under wraps as a receiver.
Patterson has played only 146 snaps this season, which doesn’t rank among the top 110 receivers in the league in terms of playing time, according to ProFootballFocus. He has played only 26 percent of the team’s offensive snaps and been targeted only 28 times.
Patterson’s role began to change in a 34-27 victory over Washington last week. He caught his first career TD pass and played a season-high 39.6 percent of the offensive snaps.
Patterson downplayed the prospect of becoming a starter.
“They drafted me to play, not ride the bench every snap,” he said. “If I start, I start. If I don’t, I don’t. I’m behind a great guy in Jerome Simpson. Me and him compete with each other just to get better.”
Frazier said the coaching staff has brought Patterson along as quickly as possible, knowing the rookie entered the league fairly raw as a receiver. Patterson said he has made improvement “everywhere,” but it’s clear he doesn’t lack confidence in his ability to make plays.
“Every time I get that ball, I expect something to happen,” he said. “Every time I touch the ball, I feel like I’m gifted and something is going to happen.”
Carroll scouted Patterson before the draft and described him as “extraordinarily talented.”
“Knowing that he’s so young as a football player and that he has such an upside, he would be a really exciting guy to have on your team,” Carroll said. “… I think he’s going to be a centerpiece of their offense as he grows with them. He’s a tremendous threat.”
Sound familiar? Hint: Percy Harvin, a unique talent who puts stress on defenses. Just don’t mention that to Patterson. He’s heard it plenty already.
“I can’t be him,” he said. “I can only be myself. Percy Harvin is a great player, but he’s not here anymore. We can’t worry about what Percy did. We’ve got to let that go and just try and build something new.”