The forgotten man returned Monday night. He was no longer invisible, no longer consumed with being Flash.
Just Cordarralle Patterson, suddenly a man of many hats.
Patterson reappeared on offense in a 24-10 victory over the New York Giants by using his unique talent to carve out a hybrid role.
Patterson figured prominently in the game plan and turned the game in his team’s favor with a bang-bang sequence that highlighted his value.
In the first quarter alone, he played gunner on the punt cover team, lined up outside at wide receiver, inside as the slot receiver and motioned to the backfield as a running back.
He moved around all over the place. A lot.
This after playing all of 13 offensive snaps in the first three games combined and barely touching the field last season.
Welcome back to the mix, Cordarrelle.
“I feel like they’re starting to trust me more and more each and every week,” he said. “I’ve just got to keep doing what I’m doing to make sure they trust me.”
Games like this help. Patterson caught five passes for 58 yards, but his presence was felt in other ways. He caused a fumble as the gunner and made the Giants defense account for him in different spots.
Patterson said he had an inkling his role would increase dramatically based on practice last week.
“Every time your number is called I get excited,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s on offense, special teams. I’m just trying to help my team get a win.”
Patterson’s contribution showed why the Vikings would have been foolish to cut ties with him this past offseason, as some predicted.
His career to date has been a source of frustration and marked by unfulfilled potential. He has failed to become the big-play wide receiver the Vikings anticipated when they traded away multiple draft picks to move up and select him in the first round.
Last season he played only 58 offensive snaps, making two catches for 10 yards.
His lack of development as a receiver falls squarely on him. His talent and athleticism were never the holdup. His inconsistent focus and lack of attention to detail as a young receiver caused him to tumble down the depth chart and render him strictly a kickoff returner, one of the NFL’s best in that role.
To his credit, Patterson finally realized his career was slipping away and devoted himself to his craft this summer.
Finding ways to utilize him with the understanding that he’s not a polished receiver became a task for the coaching staff.
“I don’t care where you put me,” he said. “I want to make a play for my team.”
One new wrinkle debuted last week looked genius Monday night. Patterson willingly accepted a request to play gunner on the punt team, which is not standard duty for first-round wide receivers.
Patterson could’ve balked or pouted, but he didn’t. He embraced the opportunity to get on the field in any capacity.
He’s proven to be a quick study.
On the Vikings’ first punt, Patterson used his speed to race down the field and get near returner Dwayne Harris, who lost his concentration and fumbled. Marcus Sherels was in position to pounce on it.
“I love being the gunner,” Patterson said. “Anything I can do to help this team win, I’m going to contribute my best.”
On the first play after the turnover, Patterson caught a short pass and turned it into a 21-yard gain to the Giants 20-yard line.
His disruption as gunner and his catch-and-run set up the first Vikings touchdown.
Offensive coordinator Norv Turner showed renewed trust in Patterson, who became a factor again in the passing game.
He drew a pass interference penalty in the end zone. He caught a third-down pass while being drilled in the back. He was targeted six times by Sam Bradford.
Patterson also had one carry for 2 yards after motioning to the backfield. He lined up in the backfield another time beside Jerick McKinnon, who shifted to Wildcat quarterback.
It felt like old times seeing Patterson used a variety of ways.
“Patience is a key to success,” he said.
Patterson certainly has tested the organization’s patience. Maybe he’s maturing before our eyes.
Chip Scoggins firstname.lastname@example.org