DAVIE, Fla. -- No Miami Dolphins player knows their Week 1 opponent -- the Cleveland Browns -- better than cornerback Dimitri Patterson. Last summer, Patterson was the starting cornerback in Cleveland’s training camp after signing a three-year, $16 million extension. But things didn’t work out and Patterson was released just seven games into the season.
One year later, Patterson is battling for the starting cornerback job with the Dolphins. Miami, which was 27th against the pass in 2012, claimed Patterson off waivers and he appeared in two games. Patterson is now getting a full training camp under his belt with the Dolphins, and is competing with fellow veteran Richard Marshall for a starting role.
On paper, the Dolphins should be favorites heading into their regular-season opener against the Browns. Miami won seven games last season and spent more than $200 million in free-agency. Meanwhile, the Browns were 5-11 and had a tumultuous offseason that included cleaning house in the coaching staff and front office.
Easy Week 1 win for the Dolphins, right? That is definitely not the case, according to Patterson.
“Cleveland is not a team to take for granted,” Patterson told ESPN.com’s AFC East blog. “They have a good running back. They have a defense that competes. They got a coordinator (Ray Horton) who is known for having competitive defenses. They have an offensive coordinator in Norv Turner who is known for having competitive offenses, and you have to respect that in itself.”
Despite the Browns’ meager record last season, Patterson knows the toughness and talent inside Cleveland’s locker room. He was once one of them.
The Browns lost five games by seven points or fewer last season. They were in a lot of games, but couldn’t find ways to win them. That should sound familiar to Miami fans, because the Dolphins also lost five games by seven points or fewer.
Both Cleveland and Miami are young teams looking to learn from last season's mistakes and take that next step. A Week 1 win could set the tone for a good start to the season.
“I remember last year in the first game of the season. Philadelphia came in there and everyone felt that was a game they should win,” Patterson said of Cleveland’s 17-16 loss to the Eagles. “They ended up winning it, but that’s the thing. The NFL is just different like that. Everybody is so competitive. The motivation factor is so dynamic.”
Patterson came to Miami with a chip on his shoulder. Not only did he not like the way he exited Cleveland, but Patterson now has to prove himself to a new team.
Patterson is currently on the fast track in Miami. He’s been one of the most consistent players in the first week of training camp, and was moved into the starting lineup for practices on Friday and Saturday. If things continue to progress at this rate, Patterson will get a chance to show his former team that he’s still got it in Week 1.
“No doubt about it, they know I can play,” Patterson said of the Browns. “My departure from there had nothing to do with football. I tell people that all the time. I won’t go into detail about it. But anybody that looks at my tape, football people within the NFL, they know my tank is full.”