EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) — Cordarrelle Patterson came to the Minnesota Vikings as a raw rookie and there were no expectations that he'd quickly become an every-down wide receiver.
With only one season of major college experience at Tennessee, Patterson's mastery of the finer points of his position was going to take time. Still, his limited use by an offense that has struggled through several games has raised plenty of questions for Vikings coach Leslie Frazier and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave.
Finally, with Patterson coming off his first career touchdown catch, the first-round draft pick could be on the verge of a more significant role. Frazier has not yet spelled out the plan publicly, but he has hinted this week that Patterson could start Sunday at Seattle ahead of Jerome Simpson, who was charged with drunken driving.
"They drafted me to play, not ride the bench every snap," Patterson said. "If I start, I start. If I don't, I don't. I'm behind a great guy in Jerome Simpson. Me and him compete with each other just to get better."
Patterson's impact has been felt on special teams, with two kickoff returns for scores. His use at wideout has been limited, though. Simpson has been productive, leading the team with 491 yards receiving. Patterson is in the learning phase, too.
"He now knows more than just one position," Musgrave said of Patterson. "We're mixing and matching him and trying to get him in good spots as well as featuring our other guys, too.
"We know Cordarrelle doesn't have a lot of football history. Played at Tennessee, had a great year, but wasn't even able to go through spring ball or even their training camp, so he's done a fantastic job of catching up to speed in terms of overall football knowledge."
Patterson was the third wide receiver taken in the draft this year, behind Tavon Austin of St. Louis and DeAndre Hopkins of Houston. But Patterson ranks 14th among rookies at his position in playing time, according to STATS. Patterson has taken only 26.4 percent of the snaps (146 of 552) for Minnesota. Hopkins is first at 89.3 percent, and Robert Woods of Buffalo, Keenan Allen of San Diego, Terrance Williams of Dallas, Kenbrell Thompkins of New England, Marlon Brown of Baltimore and Kenny Stills of New Orleans are all at 60 percent or more.