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Falcons Week 2 player of the game: It’s RB Cordarrelle Patterson, again

Mostly an afterthought outside of special teams in his career, Cordarrelle Patterson is being used as so much more in Atlanta, and the benefits have been immediate.

Atlanta Falcons v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images

No, you are not reading the same article that was written last week, highlighting RB Cordarrelle Patterson as the player of the week against the Eagles. For the second consecutive game to open the season, it was Patterson who was the best player on the field — this time against the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

In the moment, it was a bit of a surprise to some when the Falcons gave Cordarrelle Patterson a one year, $3 million contract at a point in the offseason when the team was needing to clear some of the books just to afford its upcoming draft class.

The Tennessee alum is one of the best kick returners in NFL history, being voted as a First-Team All-Pro selection as a returner four times in his career, including in each of the previous two seasons in Chicago. That in and of itself was certainly worth the $3 million, in a move to revitalize Atlanta’s return game which has been nonexistent for the better part of a decade.

Patterson has cultivated an excellent career when looking at just his special teams contributions, but he has failed to make much noise outside of that despite being selected as a first rounder in 2013 — he totaled 627 yards from scrimmage in his rookie season, which is still a career high.

Patterson has undergone a bit of a metamorphosis in the second half of his career, transitioning more into a running back role after being drafted as a wide receiver. This started in New England when he received 42 carries in 2018, which nearly matched the 44 carries he had combined over the course of the first five years of his career.

He was used sparingly in Chicago in the 2019 season (28 total touches) before being thrust into the backup RB role behind David Montgomery last season, after Tarik Cohen went down to an early season torn ACL injury. Patterson had a career high 64 carries in that role, but was little more than a depth piece for a team which gave Montgomery as many touches as he could handle following Cohen’s injury.

As we’ve seen over the course of the first two weeks of the season, Arthur Smith had bigger plans for Patterson than just using him as a returner and depth piece. This was hinted at when the team went into the season with three running backs on the roster (Patterson being one of them), and after they made the third RB — Wayne Gallman — a healthy scratch in each of the first two games.

In Week 2, Cordarrelle Patterson scored two touchdowns — one rushing and one receiving — and he had a very nice 69 yards from scrimmage. He also came inches away from scoring a third touchdown but his toe just barely grazed the out of bounds line on what would have been a long catch and run score.

Patterson recorded just four fewer touches than starting RB Mike Davis (12 to 16) and he was able to do more with them, including proving his effectiveness in the red zone where he was featured. I’d be very worried if I owned Davis in fantasy football right now.

Going back to his days at the University of Tennessee, it’s always been clear that Cordarrelle Patterson is a dynamic playmaker whenever the the ball is in his hands. The issue is that NFL coaches haven’t done the best job of getting the ball into his hands outside of return game, and for a period of time they gave up on this exercise altogether.

Arthur Smith knows what he has, however, and he’s already taken steps into unlocking Patterson’s prowess as an in-game dynamo. Two games in, and CP is on pace to shatter his career highs in both receptions and carries.

That $3 million contract seemed like a fair one for Cordarrelle Patterson the returner. It could turn into a massive bargain for Cordarrelle Patterson the returner and in-game playmaker.