ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Allow Cordarrelle Patterson, who has returned five kicks for touchdowns in his four-year NFL career, to explain what it’s like to return a kickoff, with 11 angry men harboring bad intentions bearing down on him at top speed.
“It’s just a feeling you wouldn’t understand until you’re back there when you get that ball in your hands,” Patterson, the newest member of the Oakland Raiders, said on a conference call with Bay Area media Tuesday.
“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 ... 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.”
And therein lies the reason the Raiders were so keen on signing Patterson to a two-year free-agent deal that can be voided to one year -- he dramatically improves Oakland’s return game, while, with his 4.42 speed, is more than an intriguing receiver prospect.
Consider: Patterson’s 31.7 yards per return average last season led the NFL, while the Raiders averaged 20.5 yards per return as a team, with Jalen Richard leading them at 23.6 yards per return.
The two-time All-Pro Patterson’s 30.4 yards per return average is second in the NFL to Hall of Famer Gale Sayers’ 30.6 since 1941. One of Patterson’s five return TDs came against the Raiders, a 93-yarder in 2015. Oakland’s last kick return for a score came in 2011, courtesy of Jacoby Ford.
And did we mention Patterson, who turns 26 on Friday, holds the NFL record with a 109-yarder? In fact, his TDs on kick returns have come, in chronological order, from 105, 109, 93, 101 and 104 yards.
But yes, the 6-feet-2, 216-pound Patterson, who is coming off a career-high 52 catches, for 453 yards and two touchdowns, was intrigued by the notion of the Raiders utilizing him more as a receiver. He had 45 receptions for 469 yards and four TDs as a rookie but then a combined 35 catches for 394 yards and one TD the next two seasons.
“That was one of the deciding factors,” he said. “We sat down and talked. They were just saying how they can work on (me becoming) 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.”
“It’s a blessing from the sky,” he said.
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr met with Patterson before he agreed to sign on, Patterson said, and Tweeted at him.
— Derek Carr (@derekcarrqb) March 14, 2017
Patterson said Carr also texted him after the contract was signed.
“So, a guy like that, I appreciate taking time out of his day to send me a text when he didn’t have to,” Patterson said. “You have to appreciate guys like that.
“I met him the night before. He popped up, said hello to me and was telling me how he would love to have me here and I can help them on offense and special teams. Like I said, from what I got there, man, to when I left, everyone was showing so much love. I’m just glad to be a Raider.”
Especially with Raiders fans, who rode him mercilessly the day he scored against them at the Oakland Coliseum, now welcoming him with open arms.
“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 with a laugh. “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. Just go out and enjoy it, man, keep thanking God.
“Since I joined the team, it seemed like 30 seconds and like my phone was blowing up on Twitter and Instagram with all the Raiders fans, ‘Glad to have you,’ ‘Welcome to the Black Side’ and everything. Raider Nation, baby. So, like I said, I’m excited man. My whole family is excited and I’m just ready to start a new journey.”