Vikings' Patterson 'would love to play running back'
MINNEAPOLIS -- As the Vikings begin their search for a running back to revitalize a ground game that ranked dead last in the NFL this season, at least one non-running back already on the team is volunteering to fill in.
MINNEAPOLIS - As the Vikings begin their search for a running back to revitalize a ground game that ranked dead last in the NFL this season, at least one non-running back already on the team is volunteering to fill in.
After the Green Bay Packers successfully moved wide receiver Ty Montgomery to running back in midseason, Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson said this week that he would "love to" play running back next season.
"I've been wanting to play running back," Patterson said this week in an appearance on the podcast Pardon My Take.
The move might make sense for the Vikings considering they are prepping for what could be their first season without Adrian Peterson since drafting the running back 10 years ago.
Peterson already has publicly discussed joining another team, which would leave the Vikings with two running backs, Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata, who struggled mightily this season while Peterson missed 13 games.
The Vikings are likely to use the draft or free agency to bolster the position, but coach Mike Zimmer already has praised Montgomery's transition to running back in Green Bay and might consider the same move with a similar player.
"Honestly, I think it's pretty innovative by them," Zimmer said of the Packers' decision before the teams met in Week 16. "That's what good coaches do. They work to the ability levels of their players. I think Montgomery is doing a great job running the football. ... I think they're doing a good job with him."
While Patterson has struggled to gain consistent playing time at wide receiver, the Vikings have tried to get him the ball in different ways because of his big-play potential.
He has lined up in the backfield on multiple occasions and has 31 carries in his four-year career, producing 333 yards and four touchdowns.
"I would love to play running back," Patterson said on the podcast. "I think any receiver in my position would love to play running back. People always say, 'He's just a running back when he gets the ball in his hands.'"
The Vikings averaged 75.3 rushing yards per game this season, 30th in the NFL and well below the league median of 109 rushing yards per game.
Patterson is two inches taller than the 6-foot Montgomery and would be bigger than most NFL running backs. But he's shown a knack for big plays, including as a kickoff returner, which has earned the 25-year-old two Pro Bowl bids.
In Week 1 of the 2014 season, Patterson lined up in the backfield and took a pitch 67 yards for a touchdown, the longest rush of his career.
"I just want to touch the football," Patterson said. "I would love it."
For the first time since the Vikings drafted Patterson with the No. 29 overall pick in 2013, he is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason, though he has indicated he'd like to remain in Minnesota.
In 2016, he caught 52 passes for 453 yards and two touchdowns, while running the ball seven times for 43 yards, an average of 6.1 yards per carry.
McKinnon averaged 3.4 yards per carry this season on 159 attempts, while Asiata averaged 3.3 yards on 121 rushes.