EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) — Cordarrelle Patterson's rookie year for the Minnesota Vikings produced plenty of reasons for him to feel confident and satisfied.
Two touchdowns and a league-leading 32.4-yard average per kickoff return. Over the last eight games, a total of 479 yards and seven scores from scrimmage. A rising profile around town, including ceremonial first-pitch duty at a recent Twins game.
The flashy first-round draft pick has brought some perspective and humility with him into his second NFL season.
"I don't think my work ethic was good enough last year," Patterson said, adding: "I think I was kind of bad last year. This year will be way better."
After only one season of major college action at Tennessee, Patterson was a raw talent, and his playing time early on was limited. Had he entered the NFL more polished, he probably would have been long gone before the Vikings traded up to get him with the 29th overall selection.
Now Patterson has yet another playbook to absorb under new offensive coordinator Norv Turner, but he has embraced the knowledge factor of his job, declaring that his primary offseason focus.
"I want to learn everything this year," Patterson said, noting his interest in broadening his skill set to be able to grasp all of the wide receiver positions: "if someone goes down, I can be that guy."
Patterson also took offseason classes at Tennessee with the goal of finishing his degree in communications. This week's minicamp will prevent him from taking the final exam in a science class there, so he has decided to switch his moonlight studies next year to the University of Minnesota to prevent such absences.
"Football can't last forever. I watched a movie last night. Dude only played two years in the league, you know, and he was done. He was saying to himself he had nothing to lean on," Patterson said. "Only thing he knew was football. I don't want to be that guy. This year, I could get hurt or something. I don't want to jinx myself. I just want to have something to do after football."