Regardless of the position that’s listed next to Cordarrelle Patterson's name on the Bears roster this year, it probably won’t tell the whole story.
The dynamic 6-2, 228-pounder has excelled in multiple roles in six previous NFL seasons with the Vikings, Raiders and Patriots and intends to continue to show his versatility in his first year with the Bears.
“I don’t like being labeled,” Patterson said Wednesday. “People try to say I’m a receiver, a running back, a kickoff returner. I can do anything on the field if I put my mind to it. I feel like when I get out there I’m unstoppable. I’m not saying I can’t be stopped, but I feel like I can do anything on the field.”
Since entering the NFL with the Vikings as a first-round draft pick in 2013, Patterson has 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 while playing in 93 games.
Patterson was voted first-team All-Pro and selected to the Pro Bowl as a return specialist both as a rookie and again in 2016. His 30.0-yard career average on kickoff returns is second best in NFL history behind Bears Hall of Famer Gale Sayers (30.6).
But Patterson is more than a return specialist. Last year with New England, he started back-to-back games at running back in place of the injured Sony Michel, rushing for 38 yards on 10 carries in a 25-6 win over the Bills and 61 yards and one touchdown on 11 attempts in a 31-17 victory over the Packers.
Patterson wanted to sign with the Bears in free agency after seeing how coach Matt Nagy deployed versatile playmakers such as Tarik Cohen and Taylor Gabriel in multi-faceted roles last year.
“Going into free agency, when I got that call and my agent told me the Chicago Bears were interested, it was a no-brainer for me,” Patterson said. “The things Nagy did last year as a first-year coach, it was a no-brainer for me to come here.”
During a radio appearance Wednesday, Nagy said that the chance to utilize all of Patterson’s talents left him feeling “like a kid in a candy store.”
With the Bears having conducted eight of 10 OTA practices so far this offseason, Nagy has been impressed with how quickly Patterson has learned the playbook.
“He’s really done a good job at picking this offense up,” Nagy said. “Our coaches have done a really good job at making sure that when we put together our game plans and our installs right now, they’re keeping in mind that this is a completely new language to him, so they’re easing him into it. Then you just get a feel to see how much he can digest. Right now, he’s acing the test.”
Having won the Super Bowl last season with the Patriots, Patterson knows what a championship team looks like—and he sees those qualities in the Bears.
“This group is very special,” Patterson said. “Not just the offense but the defense. They are so talented. Every time I look over there it seems like it’s another person doing something unbelievable. Their whole 11, they are unbelievable.
“On offense we feel like we’ve got a lot of pieces, a lot of guys that do a lot of stuff and we are just excited for the season.”
Take a look as Bears players hit the field for an OTA practice at Halas Hall.