The Raiders haven’t returned a kickoff for a touchdown in quite some time. Jacoby Ford did it in 2011, starting a drought the Raiders hope to end soon.
They took a big step toward that end by signing receiver and returner extraordinaire Cordarrelle Patterson on a two-year contract.
The former Minnesota Viking has only been in the league four seasons, and already has five return touchdowns. The Raiders know that all too well. Patterson burned them in 2015, returning a kickoff 93 yards to the end zone.
“I remember it like it was yesterday,” Patterson said Tuesday in a conference call.
The two-time All-Pro was greeted with jeers from the Black Hole, a fan base he’s proud to represent well.
“I’ve heard stay away from the fans over there, so you know, I’m blessed to be a part of them now,” Patterson said. “You know, when I scored that touchdown, they were giving me a lot of crap, all that stuff, but I’m a happy person. I like to have fun and enjoy myself and you can never let anybody get you down in life.”
Raider Nation will be happy to lift him up if he produces on special teams and find ways to contribute as a wide receiver. He hasn’t been targeted much, though he had a career-high 52 catches for 453 yards and two touchdowns.
Patterson said the Raiders want to use him more on offense, an attraction for someone who wants to be known as more than a return specialist.
“That was one of the deciding factors,” Patterson said. “We sat down and talked. They were just saying how they can work on getting me a better receiver. Things I’m good at, they’re going to keep continuing to do that. Those things I need to work on, they’re going to help me improve on that.”
The Raiders were certainly try to capitalize on his breakneck speed and get him the ball is space. He’ll be a fourth receiver to start, though he’ll certainly compete for playing time. He’ll definitely be the top kickoff returner, which is an area the Raiders looked to upgrade this offseason.
“I love special teams, especially on kickoff returns,” Patterson said. “It’s just a feeling you wouldn’t understand until you’re back there when you get that ball in your hands. You’re nine yards deep in the end zone and you have those 10 guys in front of you who are going to block and give you their all for you. I’m willing to bring it out anytime I can. If the coach gives me the OK, I want to bring it out.
"I want to go somewhere and know that I can help on special teams. I feel like that’s my best in the game right there, so I want to go and help on special teams as much as I can and get this receiver stuff down pat.”