MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Cordarrelle Patterson stood at the back of the end zone and waited for the opening kickoff.
When Houston kicker Randy Bullock couldn't get it deep enough, Patterson snatched it out the air and burst through the line for a 50-yard return. Just like that, the speedy rookie from Tennessee was off and running to an impressive debut.
"I (saw) the touchdown as soon as I caught the ball," Patterson said with a wide smile. "I had great blockers and the thing opened up so big, I wasn't even expecting it to be like that."
Patterson had four catches for 54 yards in addition to that nifty return in the Minnesota Vikings' 27-13 loss to the Texans in the preseason opener on Friday night. In just two quarters of work, he was able to put on display the speed, versatility and ability to run after the catch that made the Vikings pay a hefty price to trade back into the first round in April and grab him.
With Patterson sliding down the draft board in the first round, including past the Vikings twice earlier in the round, general manager Rick Spielman packaged four picks to get back in at No. 29 and take him. Patterson only had one year of major college football experience and was considered a raw prospect that would take some time to develop.
None of that scared Spielman, who saw a dynamic and versatile player with the ability to play in the slot and outside at receiver and also return kicks. After trading Percy Harvin to Seattle, the Vikings were in need of such a player.
"He made some good plays for us," coach Leslie Frazier said. "The opening kickoff obviously was a big one and then some of the catches he was able to make on the inside breaking routes, he's shown some ability to break a couple of tackles. So that was very encouraging and something we can definitely build on."