Mike Zimmer on Cordarelle Patterson: 'Let's keep our heads down and work'

MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer still wouldn't tell reporters at the NFL scouting combine on Thursday whom he asked to work with Cordarrelle Patterson this offseason. But Zimmer said Patterson has been in touch with the instructor, and added on KFAN-FM that Patterson has planned for some additional structured training this offseason.

The Vikings were sending not-so-subtle hints to Patterson at the end of the season that he needed to dedicate himself to improving this offseason, and there are concrete reasons why 2015 is a pivotal year for the receiver. The Vikings will have to make a decision on Patterson's fifth-year option by next spring. If another subpar season leads the Vikings to decline Patterson's option, he could find himself on the outs in Minnesota, headed into a contract year.

Zimmer made a couple interesting comments about Patterson to reporters in Indianapolis, especially if they're taken in conjunction with how he praised Teddy Bridgewater for not getting caught up in individual honors.

Of Patterson, Zimmer said, "I think one of the biggest problems Cordarrelle had last year was, he was going to have this breakout year and he was going to be this. I think all those things maybe affected him a little bit, and he thought how easy this game would be and how easy it was going to go. And it didn’t quite go that way. So let’s just keep our heads down and work and not worry about whatever.

“I know he likes the limelight and all that stuff, but if you’re not playing, that stuff’s going to fade away fast.”

There was plenty of talk about Patterson before his second season, and his performance against the St. Louis Rams in Week 1 only enhanced it. The absence of Adrian Peterson certainly led defenses to focus more on Patterson, but his problems mastering the basics of the receiver position had more to do with his diminished role in the offense than what defenses were doing to him. By the end of the season, he was staring up at Charles Johnson and Adam Thielen on the Vikings' receiver depth chart, and from what Zimmer said on Thursday morning, Patterson seems to be doing the right things early this offseason. We'll see if those things lead to concrete results in 2015.