EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Cordarrelle Patterson opened the Minnesota Vikings road game Sunday with a franchise record-tying 105 yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
Patterson was on the field for 10 more plays the rest of the game.
After the Vikings lost 31-30 at Chicago, the team’s use of Patterson, the talented rookie it gambled big on in the draft by trading four picks to move back up into the first round for a third time, has been puzzling.
Patterson has demonstrated his ability with the ball in his hands on kickoff returns. Coaches have said the rookie, who was considered raw coming out of Tennessee because he had only spent one season in major college football, hasn’t had any trouble picking up the offensive players.
But Patterson played only six offensive snaps on Sunday, a week after getting just five in a loss at Detroit.
“We’re going to get that rectified,” coach Leslie Frazier said Monday. “He definitely deserves to be on the field more. He’s shown that in the few snaps he’s gotten in these first two ball games. Hopefully, everything being equal, that should not be a part of the conversation next week. We want to get him on the field. He’s one of our explosive players for sure. We see what he does when he gets the ball in his hands. We’ve got to find a way to get him on the field.”
Patterson had two catches for 14 yards Sunday and has three catches for 24 yards in two games. Each reception has come on a quick screen to the outside. His first catch Sunday went for no gain, but he came back with a 14-yard reception in the third quarter, making a cut that caused Chicago linebacker James Anderson to run right past him.
Patterson, listed behind Jerome Simpson at split end on the depth chart, wasn’t limited to seeing the field just in four receiver sets. Greg Jennings and Jerome Simpson started again, and Jarius Wright is often the third receiver. Patterson did see time even in two receiver sets Sunday.
Coaches had spoken last week about getting Patterson more involved. The back issue that caused Patterson to be listed on the injury report hasn’t been a factor in his reduced role. Patterson is simply waiting for his time.
“I’m just going into practice every day trying to get better,” Patterson said last week. “It really don’t matter how many snaps I get. I make the most out of the ones I get.”
Patterson leads all rookies in all-purpose yards with 227. He had two other returns Sunday for 45 total yards and now has 203 yards on five returns this season.
Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said there was nothing left for Patterson to prove to receive more playing time. Patterson said he comfortable with the offensive playbook
“Yeah I feel very comfortable,” Patterson said last week. “I couldn’t feel any better.”
Yet, Patterson had little impact Sunday after he opened the game with a 105-yard kickoff return.
“He doesn’t get lost, we’re well aware of his talents,” Frazier said. “Even on the smoke screen, when we threw it out and he got 14 yards. We’re well aware of his talents. He doesn’t get lost. But we’ll get it rectified.”