Monday, December 6, 2021

Oldie but Goody Patterson an aggressive breakout star in ’21’

ENGLAND, Colo. (AP) — A 30-year veteran, a four-time All-Pro and four-time Pro Bowl selection, it’s hard to think of as a breakout player.

But that’s exactly what Cordarell has become in his first season with the Patterson Falcons, having transformed himself from kick return specialist and wide receiver out of Atlanta’s backfield into a real threat.

“Honestly, it doesn’t matter where they put me on the football field,” Patterson said. “I just try to go out there and play for my team. It’s something I’ve been doing my whole life.”

With nine years under his belt and his fifth NFL team since the Minnesota Vikings used a first-round pick on him in 2013, Patterson is making the most of the first feature role he’s ever actually had.

Patterson leads the Falcons (4-4) with a season-high 737 yards of scrimmage (459 receiving, 278 rushing) and seven touchdowns.

In eight matches, he has run 73 times for 278 yards and two scores. He has also caught a team-leading 38 passes and a team-best five touchdowns out of the backfield for 459 yards. And, he has returned 14 kickoffs for 332 yards.

Patterson is the first player to record for at least 10 rushing touchdowns (10), 10 touchdowns received (15) and five kickoff touchdowns (eight) in his career since the AFL–NFL merger in 1970.

“He’s an incredibly versatile player,” said Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. “He runs the ball. Physical, tough. Has the ability to come off the back end at any time. Then was drafted into this league as a wide receiver. You can put him out and he can do the same That’s what wide receivers do.

“Not many people on this planet have that versatility.”

In line with the NFL’s relaxed jersey number rules this season, Patterson has kept his number 84.

“I still think it’s Roddy White sometimes when I’m handing the ball. It’s kind of weird,” Ryan said. “If you produce, who cares if you hit the ball What number do you wear when handing out?”

Patterson also makes an impressive catching pass, including a 64-yarder with a minute to spare on Sunday, which upset Atlanta’s 27-25 in New Orleans.

Patterson’s steady output as a receiver outside the backfield has helped the Falcons cope with the absence of No. 1 wide receiver Calvin Ridley, who was placed on the reserve/non-football injury list to focus on his mental health had gone.

“We have to keep trying and touch him and find ways to get him the ball,” Ryan said of Patterson, “because he’s a playwright.”

Several other players have emerged as aggressive playwrights during the first half of the 2021 season. from them:

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Cincinnati Quarterback Joe Burrow

The Heisman Trophy winner and top NFL draft pick in 2020, a rookie quarterback in league history had one of the best seasons before he blew his left knee against Washington in Week 11. He made an impressive comeback, leading 5-4 after a 2-7-1 record last year. The ex-Tigers are leading Cincinnati’s resurgence, reuniting with former LSU star receiver Ja’Marr Chase (44 catches, 835 yards, 7 TDs).

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp

Yes, near fifth year, Catcher established himself in 2019 with a 10-touchdown season, but Kupp took his game to a whole new level in 2021. He has so far won both the NFC Offensive Player of the Month honor and his 10 TD receptions. Tied at the highest level of his career in nine matches. His 74 catches are his career-best 20 catches and his 1,019 receiving yards are 142 away from his career-high.

Dallas Wide Receiver CD Lamb

The 17th pick of the 2020 NFL Draft got off to a solid start at Dallas with five touchdowns for 935 yards and 77 receptions. But he is on pace to surpass all those numbers in 2021. He has 41 catches for 632 yards and four TDs so far and is one of the reasons the Cowboys started 6-1 on Sunday before their dud against the Broncos. His 14.4 yards per touch was on top of last year’s 12.1.

Indianapolis running back Jonathan Taylor.

The 2020 second-round draft pick is second in the NFL with 821 yards rushing in nine games. In his last 16 games, including a playoff loss to the Bills, Taylor has rushed for 1,640 yards and 16 touchdowns, six 100-yard games and receiving another 395 yards and two TDs. He has two of the NFL’s longest active streaks: six consecutive games with 100 scrimmage yards and six straight games with touchdowns.

Indianapolis wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr.

Pittman, like Taylor, struggled with injuries as a rookie in 2020 when he caught 40 passes for 503 yards and a touchdown. This year, he already has 50 receptions for 658 yards and 5 TD catches, putting him in the top 10 in the NFL. With TY Hilton injured, Pittman has become Carson Wentz’s favorite — and most reliable — target when he’s not catching a contested pass.

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With contributions from AP Pro Football Writer Teresa M Walker in Nashville, Tennessee, and AP Sports Writers Charles Odum in Atlanta and Michael Marott in Indianapolis.

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Follow Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter at https://twitter.com/arniestapleton and his work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/arniestapleton

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More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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