Cordarrelle Patterson reached 22.23 miles per hour on his 46-yard run last Sunday in Denver, the fastest speed recorded by an NFL ballcarrier since 2016.
The accomplishment is even more remarkable when you consider that Patterson isn't a slender Olympic sprinter-type but a 6-2, 238-pounder who Bears special teams coordinator Chris Tabor once described as a "locomotive coming downhill."
"That guy in space, there's not a lot of people lining up and volunteering to tackle that dude," said offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich. "He's a dynamic dude. It was a huge play in the game."
It was indeed. In fact, Patterson's 46-yard dash to the Broncos' 22 midway through the third quarter set up the Bears' first (and so far only) touchdown of the season. It was the latest example of the receiver/running back/kick returner's versatility.
"It's pretty unique," said coach Matt Nagy. "What it does as a play-caller is it allows you to be flexible with what you do. You saw last week we were able to get him on the edge. He's a big dude that's flying around there with a lot of speed."
While Patterson is much bigger than Tarik Cohen, the two players both provide a diverse set of options on offense.
"To me, he's similar but different to Cohen," Nagy said. "They can both play wide receiver, they can both play in the backfield and they're both very smart. It's pretty cool to see the volume they can handle. We just have to make sure we don't do too much of it."
In last Sunday's win over the Broncos, Patterson played 15 snaps on offense and 11 on special teams.
"He's a dynamic guy," Helfrich said. "There's a lot of stuff you'd love to do with him. But again it's about managing his special-teams reps and the play and the volume that he gets there. You saw him make some great plays there covering. But he's a great football player. He would love to be on the field every single snap—offense, defense, special teams, whatever."
Patterson signed with the Bears in March after spending his first six NFL seasons with the Vikings (2013-16), Raiders (2017) and Patriots (2018). Prior to arriving in Chicago, he averaged 30.0 yards and scored six touchdowns on 176 kickoff returns, caught 184 passes for 1,872 yards and 10 TDs and rushed for 687 yards and seven touchdowns on 184 carries.
Patterson was selected by the Vikings with the 29th pick in the first round of the 2013 draft out of Tennessee. He was voted first-team All-Pro and selected to the Pro Bowl as a return specialist both as a rookie and again in 2016.
Patterson scored his first NFL touchdown in his second career game on Sept. 15, 2013 at Soldier Field when he returned the opening kickoff 105 yards in an eventual 31-30 loss to the Bears. Later in his rookie season, he set an NFL record by returning a kickoff 109 yards for a TD in a 44-31 loss to the Packers.
Patterson scored a second TD against the Bears last Oct. 21 on a 95-yard kickoff return to help lead the Patriots to a 38-31 win at Soldier Field.