MANKATO — Every time Cordarrelle Patterson makes a long catch, the crowd cheers.
When he returns a kickoff, breaking outside and turning on the speed, the crowd cheers. If he takes a pitch from the quarterback on an end-around, zipping past the defensive end, the crowd cheers.
Keep in mind that all of these training camp drills are non-tackling, but it seems like every time Patterson, one of the Minnesota Vikings three first-round draft choices, touches the football, the fans are delighted. The expectations weren't hurt by a 50-yard return to open Friday's preseason game.
"There were good things (Friday), and we try to really emphasis those, try to replicate the good ones, and get the other ones out of our system," offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said. "Cordarrelle is doing a great job. It’s tough to learn a whole new system in a short amount of time."
Perhaps he's become so popular because he's essentially the replacement for Percy Harvin, who was traded to Seattle, or maybe it's that the Vikings had to trade three draft picks to move up into the first round to select the Tennessee receiver.
Or maybe it's his combination of size and speed that has the fan base cheering every simple task. He had a team-high four receptions for 54 yards in the preseason opener, giving fans the feeling he could break one at any time.
"He was where he was supposed to be," Musgrave said. "The quarterbacks want to know that guys are going to be dependable, be at the right depth, come out at the right angle and he was that way. You could see that a bunch of passes that he caught, those balls were thrown early, or anticipatory throws, and quarterbacks are starting to trust him."