Cordarrelle Patterson has made his living in the NFL by being versatile. The 29-year-old has been an elite kick returner since coming into the league in 2013 as a first-round draft choice of the Vikings, worked as a receiver in the passing game and, more recently, lined up in the backfield as a running back. That latter development seems like it'll continue to blossom even more as Patterson heads into his second season with the Chicago Bears. Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network reports that Patterson is attending running back meetings instead of attending receiver sessions as Chicago continues through the start of training camp.
Garafolo noted that the head coach Matt Nagy had visions of using Patterson more in the backfield when he signed him to a two-year, $10 million contract last offseason, but it was never able to fully come to fruition. In 2019, Patterson rushed for just 103 yards on 17 carries. Those attempts appear like they'll increase tenfold in 2020 as Nagy looks to be more creative with his playcalling, no matter who wins the quarterback competition between Nick Foles and Mitch Trubisky.
Josh McDaniels, the offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots, was really the one to truly unlock Patterson as a running back when he spent the 2018 season with the club. Over that season, Patterson totaled a career-high 42 carries out of the backfield and rushed for 228 yards and a touchdown. New England's Week 9 contest against the Green Bay Packers was Patterson's best game coming out of the backfield, rushing for 61 yards on over five yards a carry and a touchdown. That seems to be the type of player that Nagy is trying to bring to Chicago's offense this season.
Of course, Patterson will serve as a complement to second-year running back David Montgomery, who logged 242 carries during his rookie season, and passing-back Tarik Cohen. With those three backs in the fold, that's a pretty well-rounded collection of talent for Chicago as each player brings a different skill set to the table. Despite not working with the receivers currently, it also wouldn't be too shocking to see Patterson, who caught 11 passes for 83 yards last season for Chicago, line up out wide a decent amount in 2020.