By Nick Shook
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You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who would argue with the notion that Cordarrelle Patterson is on his last leg in Minnesota.
That includes Cordarrelle Patterson.
The Vikings receiver, who showed flashes of big-play ability in his rookie season of 2013, wasn’t shy about his precarious position.
“People say, ‘It’s your make or break year,’ ” Patterson said, per the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “I’ve just got to go out and do what I’m supposed to. It’s a big year for me. … We all know what I can do, and I’ve just got to show the coaches I can be there when I need to be, and be on time, be in the right place, the right depth on routes catching the ball. If I do all those things, I feel like things will work out well.”
Patterson has struggled with the aforementioned, so much so that he went from being a threat in both the passing and return game, to registering a grand total of two receptions in 2015. His athletic ability hasn’t diminished, but the focus and effort have frequently been deserving of scrutiny.
“Sometimes you can be here and you feel like you’ve got to be on the team,” Patterson said. “You feel like, ‘Yeah, I’m a first-round pick, I’m on the team.’ Things like that, sometimes they make you not work hard, they make you don’t want to do things, make you be lazy.”
Patterson remains among the league’s best returners, but Vikings management wasn’t afraid to spend its top pick on a receiver — Ole Miss product Laquon Treadwell — to fill the void Patterson’s lack of effort has helped create. But that seems to be changing, according to coach Mike Zimmer, who said Patterson is now “running the routes at the proper depth” and “lining up in the right spot.”
Yes, lining up in the correct spot should be expected of a professional receiver. With this being his final season under contract, and plenty of movement within the receiving corps in the last two seasons —Stefon Diggs breaking in as a rookie, Jarius Wright flirting with first-team minicamp reps, Charles Johnson losing his starting spot in 2015, and the addition of Treadwell — Patterson’s margin of error is likely small.
But his biggest drawback has long been his effort, and if that has improved as he says, a new deal elsewhere wouldn’t be all that outrageous. As Zimmer said of Patterson’s work ethic, “sometimes it just takes time to learn it.”