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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Cordarrelle Patterson, four others still in the mix for punt returner

MANKATO, Minn. — There are still four players in the mix to compete with Minnesota Vikings incumbent punt returner Marcus Sherels for the starting job.

Receivers Jarius Wright, Stephen Burton, Cordarrelle Patterson and cornerback Bobby Felder will be in the rotation to return punts for Friday’s preseason game at the Buffalo Bills, along with Sherels.

The job might not be as important to guys like Patterson and Wright, who are essentially locks to make the team as receivers, but that still doesn’t mean they’d shun the extra opportunities.

“It’s something I look forward to win a position at,” Wright said after Wednesday’s practice. “I feel I can help the offense get better field position as a returner.”

Patterson, who is the team’s designated kick returner, took the opening kickoff of Friday’s game against the Houston Texans for 50 yards, nearly breaking it loose for a touchdown before tripping over his own feet near the kicker.

“I don’t care what nobody says, the kicker did not tackle me,” Patterson said. “But if they want me to [return punts], I’m going to do it.”

Patterson appeared winded after his opening kickoff return and said he wasn’t used to the rush of adrenaline mixed with a 50-yard burst at the NFL speed.

The Vikings had to rest former receiver Percy Harvin at times because of dual duties and coach Leslie Frazier said it’s something to keep an eye on with Patterson.

“Once he settled down, he was able to come back and run routes and do it effectively,” Frazier said. “But I think some of it has to do with the nervous tension he experienced. But it is something going forward that we will have to be aware of.”

“If he’s going to return kickoffs what type of effect does it have, and when we start a drive, how will it affect him as a receiver?”

So with a loaded plate, why consider piling more on top of Patterson?

“He has shown he can catch the ball as a punt returner,” Frazier said. “We just have to weigh the options of kickoff return and what we will have him do on the offense and decide if we want him to have a shot at returning punts as well.”

Burton returned a punt on Friday for 11 yards, Sherels had one for eight yards and Wright was lined up to return one but drew an interference penalty that impeded any return.

The Vikings aren’t short on guys that want to return punts — no matter their ranks on the team.

“I like having the ball,” Burton said. “I’m pretty sure you have a better shot of making the team.”

Wright’s not backing down either.

“I’ve been working real hard since last year and hopefully I can show what I can do back there also,” Wright said.

“You can count on seeing me back there.”

by Andrew Krammer

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