MINNEAPOLIS -- Cordarrelle Patterson fielded a kickoff 7 yards deep in the end zone, headed right for a hole between Andrew Sendejo and Matt Asiata and reminded everyone why he was never going to be that far out of the Minnesota Vikings' plans.
For as laborious as Patterson's development has been as a receiver, for how frustrating he can be at times, there was never much doubt he'd find himself with more chances to turn things around with the Vikings. General manager Rick Spielman gave up four players to get Patterson with the 29th pick in the 2013 draft, and you generally don't give up on 24-year-olds with enough talent to warrant that kind of investment. And if all else failed, the Vikings could always bank on what Patterson could do with the ball in his hands.
Coach Mike Priefer called Patterson the best kick returner in the game earlier this year, even after his performance fell off following an All-Pro rookie season, and Patterson's 107-yard return touchdown on Saturday night showed once again how quickly he can change a game. That could help the Vikings' field position this season, if teams kick the ball short in fear of Patterson. Or, in one moment, it could change a game.
"The good thing about Cordarrelle is, he continues to work each and every week," coach Mike Zimmer told reporters in Dallas after the game. "And when he has the ball in his hands, he can do a lot of things. He's a good weapon for us to have."
Patterson has a guaranteed base salary of $1.06 million this season, though his financial future in Minnesota gets murkier after this year. His $1.009 million base salary in 2016 isn't guaranteed, and the Vikings might not pick up his fifth-year option next spring if Patterson doesn't show he's a more complete player this year. But his dynamism as a return man could be what keeps him around long enough for him to figure things out as a receiver. And even if Patterson never does that, he showed again on Saturday he can provide a pretty nice payoff even in a specialized role.