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Chalk Talk

Chalk Talk: Does Patterson always have green light?

Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of questions from fans on ChicagoBears.com.

Does Cordarrelle Patterson always have the green light from his coaches to take kickoffs out of the end zone? It seemed like that was the case against the Raiders, when he brought some kicks out from very deep in the end zone.
Hank P.
Barrington, Illinois

I wouldn’t say that Cordarrelle Patterson always has the green light to take kickoffs out of the end zone. Appearing on the Bears Coaches Show this week on WBBM Newsradio 780 AM and 105.9 FM, special-teams coordinator Chris Tabor said that Patterson is instructed to take calculated risks in those situations. Said Tabor: “You have to be smart. You don’t want to be reckless. But at the same time obviously we’re returning the ball because [the opponent] just scored and our job is to change momentum. I like our guy that we have back there. Sure, when you bring the ball out there’s a chance that you might get tackled inside the 20. But I feel good about our guy getting it between at worst the 20 and 25.”

Patterson has returned five kickoffs for 145 yards so far this season. All five have come on kickoffs he’s brought out of the end zone: from 9, 3, 5, 5 and 6 yards deep. Each time, he’s reached at least his own 20, getting tackled at the 20, 20, 24, 20 and 33. Patterson’s 29.0-yard average would rank third in the NFL, but he doesn’t have enough returns to qualify. (You need 1.25 returns per game and Patterson has only five returns in five games.)

I was watching the Panthers-Buccaneers game in London Sunday and saw the Panthers attempt a free kick after fair-catching a punt. Didn’t the Bears once take advantage of that obscure rule to win a game?
Ron P.
Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Yes, they did. The Bears stunned the Packers 13-10 on Mac Percival’s 43-yard field goal on a free kick with :26 remaining on Nov. 3, 1968 at Lambeau Field. Bears coach Jim Dooley instructed punt returner Cecil Turner to call a fair catch to give Percival the opportunity to win the game with a free kick. By the way, Hall of Fame running back Gale Sayers rushed for a career-high 205 yards in that contest.

Seeing Tarik Cohen’s 71-yard punt return last week, when was the last time a Bears player returned either a kickoff or punt for a touchdown?
Allan Cass
Manchester, UK

The last special-teams return touchdown was a 59-yard punt return by Bryce Callahan in the 2017 season finale in Minnesota. The Bears faked out the Vikings, sending all of their blockers to the other side of the field as if Tarik Cohen was going to field the ball. Callahan, meanwhile, hid in plain sight, taking a knee on the playing field right in front of the Bears bench.

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