Ever since he broke onto the national radar in his junior season at Tennessee, Cordarrelle Patterson has been known for breaking big plays in almost every way possible.
Patterson's combination of size and speed has allowed him to defy easy definition as a player.
"I'm not one of those guys you just label as a wide receiver, kick returner, running back," said Patterson. "I just go out and do whatever coach tells me to do. Whatever he needs done, I'm going to go out and do it to the best of my ability."
During the first two days of padded practices in training camp, the Bears coaching staff has experimented with Patterson in a new role, one in which he mostly plays running back.
"I think it'll be our job as coaches to make sure that however we decide to use Cordarrelle that we think is best," said coach Matt Nagy, "we'll go ahead and do that, but there's different ways throughout his career that he's had success."
The team roster still lists Patterson as a wide receiver, and Patterson still wears number 84. However, the eighth-year pro has spent the week taking handoffs from quarterbacks Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles and running drills with the team's running backs.
Patterson's potential in the run game has been apparent to nearly every team for which he has played, even when he has been his team's primary receiving threat.
Patterson logged 32 carries for 379 yards and six touchdowns in his final season at Hutchinson Community College and 25 carries for 308 yards and three touchdowns during his lone season at Tennessee.
A spate of injuries forced the New England Patriots to use Patterson at running back for swaths of the 2018 season. However, Patterson says that this is his most concerted effort to date to master the aspects of the position beyond carrying the ball.
"It's different, but it's football, man," he said. "It's something I've been doing my whole life. It's going to come, man. It's going to take time. For a fact, it's something I don't have down right now, so I keep spending time with (passing game coordinator Dave Ragone) each and every day. I'm just trying to keep learning it and master my craft."
Last season, Patterson had 11 catches for 83 yards and ran the ball 17 times for 103 yards. He also served as the team's primary kick returner, a responsibility he is expected to retain in 2020.
Even with a year of experience in Nagy's offense, Patterson said that learning his new position was similar to learning a different system. He has leaned on running backs Tarik Cohen and David Montgomery for guidance.
"I'm just trying to pick those guys' brains," said Patterson. "I tell those guys, 'you know, I'm a veteran guy, but I'm learning something new for the first time, so I'm just trying to learn from you guys.'"
In the past, Patterson has used his speed to be dangerous on reverses and fly sweeps. However, he is focused on improving his power running game.
"I'm just trying to get better running between the tackles," said Patterson, "just running it period. All my career, I've been running it outside a lot, so that game's natural to me. I'm just trying to run it in the A and B gap, so I'm just trying to learn that. It's all new to me."