EDEN PRAIRIE, Minnesota — Cordarrelle Patterson was making everyone in Minnesota start to forget about Percy Harvin thanks to a promising rookie season and a positively dynamic season opening performance against St. Louis.
Patterson could take any kickoff that landed in the field of play to the house, just like Percy. He could turn short passes into long gains, just like Percy. And he could line up in the backfield and be a threat at running back, just like Percy.
In recent weeks, he's been conspicuously absent from the Vikings offense. Just like Percy.
The big prize of the package that the Vikings received from Seattle for Harvin a year and a half ago has seen his opportunities for big plays dry up. Patterson had just two catches for 8 yards in a blowout loss to division rival Green Bay last week.
"It's fun being a decoy sometimes because you just open everything else for other people," Patterson said. "My decoy time, it's probably up. Everybody is going to start worrying about everybody else and then they're going to forget about me. I hope it's this week. I hope I get a couple of touchdowns this week."
Even more glaring is that after that dazzling performance against the Rams in Week 1 in which he had three carries for 102 yards, including a 67-yard touchdown, Patterson has had just one carry — for a 7-yard loss — in the last four games.
For a team that is missing star running back Adrian Peterson while he addresses a charge of child abuse in Texas, it's a bit of a head scratcher. Patterson's ability to be a threat in the backfield is well known, and yet he hasn't even been used as a decoy in the backfield since Peterson was placed on paid leave.
"To me, those things come around," offensive coordinator Norv Turner said Thursday. "There's things that we've got in every week for Cordarrelle and we're anxious to get him more involved. We'll keep trying to."
With Peterson gone and tight end Kyle Rudolph out because of injury, opposing defenses have been able to focus more attention on Patterson to try and take him out of the game plan.
Sometimes, it works to Minnesota's advantage.
In Week 4, the Atlanta Falcons appeared to be bent on not letting Patterson beat them. That opened things up for slot receiver Jarius Wright to have eight catches for 132 yards and Jerick McKinnon to rush for 135 of Minnesota's 241 yards on the ground in a 41-28 victory.
During his time in Minnesota, Harvin never hesitated to express his displeasure when things weren't going well. Harvin clashed with coaches behind the scenes and lashed out at the team's revolving door at quarterback.
The happy-go-lucky Patterson is trying to take a different approach, even after just 10 catches and one rushing attempt in the team's three losses this season. After each of those defeats, Patterson has declined to express frustration over his lack of involvement, and he reiterated on Thursday that he doesn't think he has the clout to lobby for a bigger role this early in his career.
"I'm not a drama queen or anything," Patterson said. "I don't want to go to the offensive coordinator and try to demand the ball. One day, maybe if I get a couple more Pro Bowls, maybe I can do things like that; but the time is not right now. It's only my second year, and he's a new offensive coordinator for this team."
When Patterson was drafted at the end of the first round last year, it was known that he had some work to do to polish his game as a receiver. He said he's worked hard to be a sharper route-runner and better understand how to read the coverages he's facing.
Coach Mike Zimmer said that even though Patterson didn't rack up big stats in the loss to Green Bay, the coach thought the receiver made progress in his development.
"Actually, I thought he did some good things," Zimmer said. "He didn't obviously catch as many balls as we would have liked, or anything like that, but I thought he improved as a receiver (on Thursday)."
Patterson perpetually has a smile on his face, and said that a hip injury he suffered against the Packers won't stop him from playing against the Lions (3-2) on Sunday.
But he did joke that if he doesn't get the ball more often soon, he may have to revert to his diva days in junior college.
"In junior college, I was a drama queen," Patterson quipped. "I demanded the ball and it paid off for me. So if things keep going like this, I may have to be that drama queen one time."
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