FOXBORO, Mass. — After Week 8, the Cordarrelle Patterson-running back experiment looked like one the New England Patriots needed to take back to the laboratory.
That’s apparently what they did because Patterson looked much more comfortable running the ball in the Patriots’ 31-17 Week 9 win over the Green Bay Packers.
Patterson forced two missed tackles against the Packers and averaged 3.54 yards after contact per carry, according to Pro Football Focus. He forced just one missed tackle last week and averaged 2.4 yards after contact per carry last week.
So, what did he improve on?
“Probably yards,” Patterson said, smiling. “I was trying to work on my ball handling this week. Sometimes I did good, sometimes I was just grabbing the ball. I have to get better at that. I gotta get (Patriots running backs coach Ivan Fears) to coach me up more this week trying to handle the ball if they give me some carries this week.”
Patterson’s not just feeling comfortable. He’s ready to be Emmitt Smith.
“I said I wanted 25 carries this week, but I don’t know how many I had,” Patterson said. “I told (offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels) to give me 25, but I don’t think they gave me 25.”
He said he wants at least 15 carries next week.
Patterson told NESN.com he doesn’t think he’s ever had more than three carries in a game, dating back to high school, before the last two weeks. That’s the max he had in the NFL prior to this season. So, how did the Patriots come up with the idea of moving Patterson to running back with Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead out with injuries?
“Well, he played in the backfield in Oakland,” Belichick said. “You could definitely see him running there. They had a package for him, so I saw that when we watched him before we traded for him in Oakland. He’s a versatile guy that can play receiver. He can certainly carry the ball, return kicks and also play in other areas in the kicking game, as well.
“He’s big, he’s fast, he’s tough and he competes well. With the ball in his hands, he’s pretty good. But yeah, we saw it. We saw enough of that, I would say, in Oakland to feel confident enough to — I mean, look, we thought we had good depth at running back and we did at one point in the year. Depth in August and depth in November are two different things. We have what we have now and hopefully, that’ll improve, but we’ll see.”
Belichick sounded impressed with Patterson’s performance Sunday night.
“He’s worked really hard with the ball-handling, the reads, but boy, he runs hard,” Belichick said. “He runs fast and he’s a hard guy to tackle, so he’s done a great job for us. He gave us some important carries and some big yards. …
“He’s done a great job for us in a number of areas, doing different roles week to week, and the last couple of weeks carrying the ball and getting some tough yards for us. The touchdown run was a good run. Like a lot of our guys have, they just step in, fill the role that we need for them and help the team win and that’s really what it’s all about. But yeah, he was tremendous.”
Patterson’s just the latest in a long line of players Belichick has moved around in his 19 seasons as Patriots head coach. Wide receivers Troy Brown and Julian Edelman played cornerback, linebacker Mike Vrabel played tight end, and multiple players, including Edelman, have thrown the ball. Edelman completed a 37-yard pass to running back James White on Sunday night.
“It reminds you of little league football a little bit,” Edelman said. “Our coaches do a good job of — people don’t realize the season, guys get banged up, versatility is so huge. I believe that they believe for that kind of stuff when they’re looking for guys. It’s fun.”
Thumbnail photo via Stew Milne/USA TODAY Sports Images