ALAMEDA – Cordarrelle Patterson is an All-Pro kick returner. That’s his calling card, rightfully so. The man has averaged 30.4 yards on 134 kickoff returns, with 18 percent of them going 40 of more. The man has five touchdowns in the kicking game.
He’s 6-foot-2, 220 pounds with track star speed.
It’s obvious why the Raiders were drawn to him in unrestricted free agency. Their return game as long been lacking. Patterson is a major weapon, even if he never takes an offense snap.
That isn’t the plan. Patterson is a receiver by trade, though his offensive numbers don’t overwhelm. Lackluster might be a fair term when attached to so much size and speed. He averaged 20 receiving yards per game and 10 per catch in four seasons with Minnesota, mostly relegated to screens and gadget plays.
The Raiders might use him in more conventional ways, though offensive coordinator will try and exploit tremendous speed.
“He’s a fun tool,” Downing said two weeks back. “I won’t speak too much about how he was used in the past. That’s somebody else’s job, but I can tell you that we’re going to have fun looking for ways to get him involved in the offense. He’s a big strong, physical, dynamic with the ball in his hands type player, and we’re excited to see what he can do for us.”
He flashed some of that skill in Wednesday’s practice. It was just a minicamp session in mid-June, but Patterson flashed speed, skill and hands while working with the first and second units. He scored three touchdowns, including one where he high-pointed EJ Manuel’s deep ball in the right corner of the end zone. His teammates immediately swarmed around the touchdown catch.
“EJ did a heck of a job throwing only where I could get it,” Patterson said. “I got the touchdown and everybody got excited, so I got excited.”
Patterson faring well as a conventional receiver would add yet another explosive element to a passing game that already features names like Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, Seth Roberts and Jared Cook.
He’ll obviously play a major role on special teams. His offensive involvement could alter how much he does beyond kickoff returns.
“We're really happy that he's on our roster,” special teams coordinator Brad Seely said. “Obviously in Minnesota he was an outstanding returner, and we feel like he can bring that to our table. He can also be a coverage guy for us on our punt team. And it always comes down to how much offense is he going to play? We want to keep our guys as fresh as possible and balance that with getting as many reps as we can out of the kicking game.”
Patterson wants to play more offense but will accept whatever role he earns during his first season in Oakland.
“It’s whatever they want me to do,” he said. “I’m a guy where, if you tell me to do something, I’m going to go learn it. Doesn’t matter if it’s the quarterback position. Whatever the coaches feel like I need to play I’m going to go in and learn it, and do my best at it so I can be out on the football field.”