Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said, "In my mind, Cordarrelle Patterson's the best kick returner in the league, so it would be crazy for me to put someone else in that spot," per NFL.com.
Patterson averaged 25.6 yards on returns last year, sixth in the league. He still has room for improvement, Priefer said.
"There's still things that he can't do this year he did last year, like put the ball on the ground," he said.
Mike Zimmer has expressed optimism that underachieving
Patterson took a step back in 2014 after a mediocre rookie year. He played in every game, but managed just 33 receptions for 384 yards and one touchdown. He has since stated that 2015 is his make-or-break year and is apparently acting like it in the offseason.
"He's done real well," Zimmer told Fox Sports North. "He's running routes good. He's working hard. So we just need him to continue to do those things and continue to keep getting consistent and keep improving. I've been impressed."
"This year is going to make me or break me, and I hope I step up and have a good role in this offense," Patterson said Monday during the second week of voluntary workouts.
Patterson worked out in San Francisco last month while many of his offensive teammates were working out in Los Angeles.
"I feel like I needed to work on something different from what those guys were doing," Patterson said. "So I went to San Francisco."
He indicated he touched up on some skills that needed refining.
"This whole offseason, I spent a lot of time just thinking to myself, 'How can I get better?' " he said. "I just want to let my game speak for itself. I just focused on the little things that really matter, and I hope this year will be way better than last year. Just route running. Growing up, I was always athletic and could just do anything. I'm in the NFL now, so I just have to focus on my craft and just work at route running, getting in and getting out of breaks and stuff like that."
Patterson could open the season as the team's slot receiver depending on how the Vikings approach this weekend's draft.
"No, no chance whatsoever," Zimmer said. "Cordarrelle is a young, emerging player who was with his third coordinator in three years. Quite frankly, we need to do a good job of figuring out how we can use him better and he needs to understand where he's supposed to be, the routes and everything."
Patterson struggled in 2014 with just 33 catches for 384 yards.
"He's going to play good football for us," wide receivers coach George Stewart said in December. "He's a first-round pick for a reason, and he's going to be very successful for us going forward."
Zimmer is seeking a bounce-back season for Patterson after a disappointing 2014 campaign. in a highly disappointing second season. In 2013, Patterson finished with 45 catches for 469 yards and four touchdowns and 12 carries for 158 yards and three touchdowns. He caught 33 passes for 384 yards and a touchdown in 2014.
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