EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Cordarrelle Patterson had a "heart-to-heart" talk with Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer on Thursday morning, he said, and while the second-year receiver wouldn't get into what the two men talked about, he said both of them wanted to meet, and added he walked away from the conversation feeling good about their relationship.
Patterson played just one offensive snap on Sunday against the New York Jets, a week after seeing only three against the Carolina Panthers, and fumbled the opening kickoff of the third quarter. He's effectively become the fourth wide receiver on a team that rarely puts more than three on the field at the same time, and Zimmer has said several times he wants to see more consistent practice habits from Patterson. Their talk, Patterson said, was an honest exchange about how things are going.
"Just getting that talk out of the way, it makes me have less pressure on me," Patterson said. "It feels good to sit down and talk to him."
The receiver's second year in the league has been a trying one, as the Vikings have gone from manufacturing touches for Patterson to trying to get him the ball as a traditional receiver. He hasn't mastered the nuances of the split end position, and it hasn't helped Patterson's situation that Charles Johnson has emerged in the second half of the season.
Patterson said he believes in what Zimmer and Norv Turner are doing, but I thought there was an interesting point to be gleaned from Zimmer's comments about the receiver on Wednesday. Asked what Patterson needed to do to get more involved in the offense, Zimmer said, "Consistency. It’s being in the right place, doing the right things, running the right routes, blocking the right people, lining up in the right place, that’s it."
And then, as a reporter started to ask a question about linebacker Anthony Barr, Zimmer interjected, repeating a point he'd made about Patterson the week before. "Again, I want this guy to be a great player. I really do. I want him to be a great player. I don’t know when it’ll happen and I’m hoping like crazy it does because I want him to be a great player."
When Zimmer first made the point a week ago, it came a day after Patterson said he didn't know why he had a limited role against Carolina. It seemed then like he was trying to turn down the volume on the idea that there might be a rift between Patterson and the coaching staff. On Wednesday, it felt like he was making the point as much so Patterson would hear it as he was for the sake of reporters.
Whatever happens in the season's final three weeks, there's no doubt this is a critical offseason for Patterson. He needs to devote himself to mastering the finer points of playing receiver in the NFL, and come back ready to show he wants to be a great player in the league. Short of that, he could find opportunities hard to come by again in 2015.
"He kept it real with me, and I told him how I feel," Patterson said. "Just talking to him, I believe in everything he's saying."