Who Replaces Patterson?
Cordarrelle Patterson may have been a bust as a wide receiver prospect but he was certainly one hell of a kick returner. Patterson departed for Oakland in free agency and took his 1 touchdown a season and 30.4 yard career kick return average with him. The Minnesota Vikings are quickly finding out that he is a tough act to follow.
After the first two games of preseason, the Vikings are averaging a depressing 18 yards per return. Worse still those auditioning for the role have demonstrated poor decision-making and unacceptable ball security. Both of those traits were on display in Seattle.
Despite Rodney Adams fumbling the ball on a punt return against Buffalo in week 1, the coaching staff decided to give the rookie another opportunity against the Seahawks. Unfortunately this proved to be a poor decision, whilst he had one respectable 21 yard return he coughed up the ball again on his second attempt. Safe to say fans, including myself, were not impressed.
Putting the ball on the ground twice in 2 weeks would cause most rookies to worry about their job security. Adams should be safe thanks to his improving performances at wide receiver, 4 catches for 26 yards this week, but I wouldn’t think about letting him handle return duties again. Regardless of his impressive athleticism the Vikings simply cannot take the risk once the regular season begins.
Worryingly for the Vikings the alternative options they tested against Seattle also failed to impress. Fellow rookie Stacey Coley was given the chance following Adams’ error but after catching the ball in the end zone he incorrectly opted against taking a knee and only made it to the 11 yard line. Jerick McKinnon auditioned, receiving Minnesota’s opening return at the 2 yard line but he only managed an uninspiring 10 yards before Kasen Williams brought him down.
It will be interesting to see who Minnesota opts to return kicks in their 3rd preseason game. Marcus Sherels is the only option we are yet to see and you would hope the coaches are strongly considering seeing if he can replicate his punt return ability on kick-offs. Even if Sherels can’t replicate his impressive elusiveness he at the very least offers a safe pair of hands and is a solid decision maker. At this point for the Minnesota Vikings, that may have to do.