FOXBORO, Mass. — New England Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater compared the beginning of the offseason workout program to the first week of school Tuesday.
If that’s the case, then Slater is particularly intrigued by one of his new classmates.
The Patriots acquired wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson and a sixth-round pick from the Oakland Raiders this offseason for a fifth-round pick. Beyond being a versatile chess piece on offense who can split out at wide receiver and carry the ball out of the backfield, Patterson also is one of the best kick returners in the NFL.
Patterson has 153 career kick returns for 4,613 yards with five touchdowns in five seasons. He’s earned two Pro Bowl nods and three All-Pro honors for his work on special teams.
“I’ve been a fan of his for a long time,” Slater said Tuesday at Gillette Stadium. “He’s a very unique returner, what he’s able to do. The guy’s really gifted, that young man. We’re excited to have him, excited to get on the same page and hopefully have some success. But that success is going to be built throughout the course of the offseason. It’s not going to happen overnight. We’re going to have to work at this thing one day at a time and try to put ourselves in a good position moving forward.”
Patterson’s work with the Patriots isn’t going to be limited to kick return duties. He also worked as a special teams gunner with the Raiders. He has 163 career catches for 1,625 yards with seven touchdowns and 44 career carries for 454 yards with six touchdowns in four seasons with the Minnesota Vikings and one with the Raiders.
It’s unlikely Patterson will earn a starting spot at wide receiver, where he’s competing with Jordan Matthews, Malcolm Mitchell, Kenny Britt, Phillip Dorsett, Riley McCarron and Cody Hollister for a role, but he certainly could be used in some sets as a gadget player.