MANKATO — Last year, it was Jarius Wright. This season, it's Cordarrelle Patterson.
It seems that fans always get excited about a new, flashy kick and punt returner, but when it comes time for a clutch return, look for Marcus Sherels to be back for the Minnesota Vikings.
"It's the same every year," Sherels said. "But we all root for each other and try to make each other better."
Sherels, who played at Rochester John Marshall before walking on at the University of Minnesota, is in his fourth training camp with the Vikings. In each of the first three, the quiet Sherels, undersized at 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds, was a long shot to stick around. But there's something about a player that does his job well that gets coaches all fired up.
'There’s so many things that he can do, and we say, “Marcus go do it.” He’s going to do it the right way," special teams coordinator Priefer said. "I know he’s undersized, and I know that he’s not the fastest guy out there, but he’s faster than what most people think. He’s got great quickness, great intelligence and he’s tough."
Sherels, a cornerback, is in a similar position at this training camp, though his returning resume is more strong with each season of experience. In two seasons, Sherels has made 68 punt returns and averaged 8.7 yards per attempt, and he's averaged 27.1 yards on 34 kick returns. He scored his first touchdown with a 77-yard punt return against Detroit last season.
"He's fearless," Mike Priefer said. "For a little man to be that fearless is rare, and so I like having him back there.
"He can break the big play, he did it last year in Detroit, and he had a couple others he was close on. We need to do a better job of blocking for him, and I think he’ll get more yards this year."