At the beginning of the season Cordarrelle Patterson was seen as an electric playmaker who still had plenty of growing to do as a football player. That explains why the Minnesota Vikings took so long to implement him into their weekly game plan. But after being targeted seven times by Matt Cassel last week, the Vikings are finally showing to have complete faith in their rookie wide receiver.
Patterson’s seven targets were the most of any Vikings receiver, and although he only caught three of those passes for a total of eight yards, he must remain a constant part of the team’s offense. Just like Adrian Peterson, Patterson has the ability to break a play open at any moment, and this was proven once again on his final carry of the game when he lined up in the backfield and took the pitch for a 35-yard touchdown.
Prior to the season, the word on the street was that Patterson was the next coming of Percy Harvin, whom the Vikings had recently traded to the Seattle Seahawks. Patterson, however, has proven to be a more electric kick returner than Harvin was, and he’s beginning to replicate the role Harvin played in the Vikings’ offense during his four-year stay in Minnesota.
Patterson in fact is about to break the Vikings’ single season record for kick return yards given he totals at least four against the Detroit Lions this coming Sunday — a feat which easily will happen if Patterson is allowed just one return. Patterson has already passed Harvin’s mark of 1,157 return yards in 2009, and his 33 yards per return is six yards more than Harvin’s ’09 average.
Short passes and screen plays were Harvin’s forte when with the Vikings, and the team has already seen Patterson excel in the same situations. Patterson is currently averaging 6.6 yards after the catch per reception — ranking him seventh in the NFL — and given he’s just a rookie. This average conceivably could rise over the coming years.
It took the Vikings over half the season to finally make Patterson a consistent part of the offensive gameplan, but now that he is we will begin to see the emergence of an elite wide receiver who has the big play making ability very similar to his teammate Adrian Peterson.