Cordarrelle Patterson optimistic about future with Minnesota Vikings

MINNEAPOLIS -- Two years ago, Cordarrelle Patterson was the rookie receiving star on the Minnesota Vikings. This season, he has mostly watched from the bench as rookie Stefon Diggs has taken the NFL by storm.

MINNEAPOLIS - Two years ago, Cordarrelle Patterson was the rookie receiving star on the Minnesota Vikings. This season, he has mostly watched from the bench as rookie Stefon Diggs has taken the NFL by storm.
Patterson wasn’t playing much even before Diggs got his first look in the fourth game, but now he’s really buried on the depth chart. Still, the third-year man doesn’t buy into the notion that he isn’t part of Minnesota’s future.
“I don’t need to worry about my future,” Patterson said Thursday. “I’m here for a reason. If they wanted to let me go, they would have let me go when the trade (deadline on Tuesday) was here. I’m not worried about anything.
“Diggs is doing a heck of a job, and I’m happy for him, but I can’t worry about what he’s doing. I’ve got to worry about myself and control what I can control.”
Patterson caught 45 passes for 469 yards as a rookie in 2013 and was expected to take his play to another level last season. But he lost his job to Charles Johnson midway through 2014.
When there were injuries at wide receiver earlier this season, Patterson was hopeful about getting another chance. Instead, the Vikings turned to Diggs, who has caught 25 passes for 419 yards and become the first player in NFL history with 85 or more receiving yards in each of his first four games.
Patterson has caught two passes this season for 10 yards. He’s basically Minnesota’s No. 6 receiver, and would be at risk of being deactivated for games if he wasn’t the team’s kickoff returner.
Nevertheless, Patterson said he wants to remain long term with the Vikings.
“I’m happy to be here,” Patterson said. “This is my home. I always want to be here. But if my time comes and I’m not here, I know that the time will come that I shouldn’t be here.”
Patterson, taken with the No. 29 pick in 2013 draft, is in the third year of his four-year rookie deal. The Vikings must decide by May whether to pick up his fifth-year option, a move that at this point seems unlikely.
Patterson has a base salary next year of $1.009 million and bonuses of $380,000. However, none of that money is guaranteed.
“I know my ability,” Patterson said. “I know what I can do. ... When an opportunity comes, I’ve just got to make the most of it. I’m not getting that many opportunities, and I don’t know why. But things happen for a reason, and you’ve got to be ready for it.”
Patterson claims he’s “not getting frustrated” despite his limited play.
“I’m handling it very good,’’ Patterson said. “A wise man once told me, ‘Control what you can control and do what you can do.’’’
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer agreed Patterson’s attitude has been good. “He comes out there and works hard every day and he’s trying to get better and trying to do things right,” he said.
But Patterson’s work as a returner seems to be regressing. After leading the NFL with a 32.4-yard average in 2013, he slipped to 25.6 last year and is at 24.7 this season. He has a long return of 33 yards.
Patterson admits it’s been a “little frustrating” not having broken a long return.
“At the end of the day, we need to block better,’’ Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said. “(Patterson) needs to set his returns a little better, and he’s got to hit the seam and then stay with the seam.”
Priefer has given Patterson the green light most of the time to return kicks regardless of where he is in the end zone. Patterson, who has no kickoff returns for touchdowns since he had as a rookie, said he’s been looking at 2013 tape for guidance.
“I was out there playing ball and just having fun and every kickoff return taking it out and running full speed and just following those 10 guys in front of me,” he said.
It all seemed a lot more fun two years ago for Patterson. He had a 141-yard receiving game on a snowy December day in Baltimore that many thought was a sign of things to come.
Now, the young Vikings receiver having all the fun is Diggs. But Patterson is determined not to get down about it.
“I’ve just got to keep my head high and just stay happy and stay positive,’’ he said.

The Pioneer Press is a media partner with the Forum News Service

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