Notebook: Cordarrelle Patterson tells Jeff Fisher: 'Kick me the ball'
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- During the weekly conference call, St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher wasn't too bullish on the thought of kicking to Cordarrelle Patterson in Sunday's regular season opener.
Patterson wasn't convinced, especially after a conversation he had with Fisher in June at the ESPY's, in which Patterson said: "I told him, 'Just make sure you kick me the ball, man,' and I told him, 'Just be ready.'"
"Coaches tell you two different things," Patterson said. "I feel like they're going to try to kick it to me. Their kicker [Greg Zuerlein], he's got a big leg. So I feel like he's going to try to kick it out of the end zone. If he don't, I'm going to try to bring it out."
That's nothing new for Patterson, who returned two kickoffs for touchdowns in his rookie season - one from five yards deep in the endzone and another with his foot just barely in bounds for a 109-yard score. In his first season, Patterson also led the NFL with 32.4 yards per kickoff return, which helped give the Vikings a NFL-leading average field position of the 26-yard line off kickoffs.
Zuerlein tied for fourth in the NFL with 52 touchbacks last season.
Coach Mike Zimmer hasn't said Patterson will return all kickoffs this season, leaving open the possibility to give the dynamic receiver some rest depending on his offensive workload that game.
Patterson is still expecting the bulk of kickoff returns despite his increased use on offense.
"Last year, that's where I made my money at, on kickoff returns," Patterson said. "So ain't no need for me to be lobbying off of that. That's my job, man. So I don't feel like I need to get off that unless coach tells me to."
'Hopeful' no need for backup TE?
The Vikings' 53-man roster initially had just two tight ends before the coaching staff claimed tight end MarQueis Gray off waivers.
Though Gray played under Norv Turner in Cleveland, he's still behind the curve in terms of learning the nuances of Turner's system in Minnesota. When asked about Rhett Ellison's capability to fill in as a pass-catching backup to Kyle Rudolph, Turner said he hopes it doesn't come to that.
"Well hopefully we don't need a backup in that role," Turner said. "As we go through this, everyone's role is going to be defined and it happens as how guys play."
Ellison, 26, has just 12 receptions in two NFL seasons and has typically been the Vikings' run-blocking specialist from the tight end position. With John Carlson gone and Chase Ford still recovering from a broken foot on the practice squad, the Vikings are one injury to Rudolph away from being without a receiving threat at the position.
Ellison said he's more comfortable in the role he knows, which has primarily been blocking.
"[I'm most comfortable] doing the stuff I've probably been doing the last two years," Ellison said. "But whatever situations they want to use me in, that's fine by me. It's their choice."
Michael Mauti (foot), Brandon Watts (leg) and Zach Line (ankle) all sat out again on Thursday.
Everson Griffen (illness) was a new addition to the injury report, though Zimmer isn't worried about his availability for Sunday at St. Louis.
Mike Harris (shoulder) was still limited.
Receiver Rodney Smith (neck) and cornerback Jabari Price (shoulder) were both full participants again.
• Minnesota Timberwolves lottery pick Zach LaVine attended Vikings practice and was introduced to general manager Rick Spielman, Patterson and others.
• Zimmer shed some light on the thinking behind keeping two fullbacks in Line and Jerome Felton: "We think they're both good players. Fullbacks are hard to find, if something happens. Plus, the need in this offense, I think, is big. We don't want to lose good football players unless we have to."
• On the Rams' injury report: Cornerback Trumaine Johnson (knee) and center Barrett Jones (back) did not practice; tackle Jake Long (knee), defensive end William Hayes (chest), linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar (shoulder) and defensive end Eugene Sims (knee) were limited.