As Mike Zimmer enters his first season as the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings, the first head coaching tenure of his career, he knows that wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson is a vital part of his offense, as was evidenced during his rookie season last year.
But what made Patterson so special to the team in his first season last year had a lot to do with how he performed on special teams returning kicks, and that will not be a role that he will be giving up this season.
While speaking to the media before camp on Wednesday, Zimmer let everyone know that Patterson will still be back there with the ball in his hands.
“We want our best players to get their hands on the ball as much as possible.” Zimmer said. “We’re not going to keep him from returning kicks because he is such a dangerous weapon there. He’s been a very hard worker, he has improved his route running since we’ve been here and things are going to change for these guys in training camp when we are able to start playing bump-and-run. For him to take the next step, we’re going to have to see how he gets off a jam and the things that people will try to do to take him away.”
During his rookie campaign last season, Patterson returned a total of 43 kickoffs for 1,393 yards with two touchdowns.