ATLANTA — Cordarrelle Patterson may have the NFL’s all-time kick return touchdown record with nine, but he isn’t sitting back and letting someone potentially catch him.
No, Patterson said, as long as the Atlanta Falcons coaches continue to let him return kicks he’s going to do so. Because now, it’s about creating distance.
“I need to get to 10,” Patterson said Tuesday. “I need to just try to separate myself from a lot of people.”
Patterson broke the mark against the Chicago Bears — one of the teams he played with in the past — last season, snapping a tie with Josh Cribbs and Leon Washington at eight.
The distance he might be trying to create, though, could be for future players chasing him as much as anything else. The closest active players to Patterson are Kene Nwangwu and Andre Roberts, who have three each. Six other players have two.
Patterson joked last season he would set the record and then stop. He didn’t then and doesn’t plan to now, saying he wasn’t serious about stopping when he suggested it last July.
What could be different for Patterson is the NFL’s new kickoff rule change, which will allow a ball that is a fair catch to be placed at the 25-yard line even if it doesn’t go into the end zone. This could change how teams approach kickoffs, something Patterson admitted, although he doesn’t think it will alter Atlanta’s approach too much.
One of the things Patterson is known for in his kick returns is his willingness to take any kick and return it from any distance at any time. Patterson said the new rule means he could call for fair catches at points, but “it depends on the situation,” like if a ball is kicked short and he doesn’t see a possibility for a hole between defenders or if the Falcons are up big with little time left.
“I think it’ll be good, see it in preseason and see how every team adjusts. Not just Atlanta Falcons,” Patterson said. “See all the other 31 teams. See how everybody else played and just try to be smart. But who knows? We’ll see what happens, man.”
Besides the kick return touchdown mark, Patterson is No. 10 all-time in kick return yardage with 7,836, just behind Desmond Howard (7,959) and Darren Sproles (8,352). He’s well behind the NFL’s all-time leader, Brian Mitchell, who had 14,014 kick return yards from 1990 to 2003.
Patterson said Tuesday he could play six or seven more seasons “if a team is going to want to keep me around, but if they want me, I’m going to be here.”
Patterson’s role could be intriguing, too. Entering his third season in Atlanta, he’s been used in a variety of different ways. In 2021, he lined up throughout the formation, becoming a versatile offensive option for head coach Arthur Smith, leading to a career year for Patterson.
Last season, he was used more as a running back and was the NFL’s No. 3 rusher when he suffered a knee injury, which allowed then-rookie Tyler Allgeier to take over the job and become a 1,000-yard runner.
This season, Patterson will share the backfield with Allgeier and Bijan Robinson, the No. 8 pick in this year’s draft.
“It’s going to be a fun year. It’s going to be fun. I’m glad we got him,” Patterson said. “He just brings that much to this offense. We wouldn’t have drafted him if we didn’t need him at the position. So we got him and he’s going to do great for us.”
Having Robinson might allow Smith to be creative with Patterson, like he was in 2021. Patterson is hoping for that, and his head coach said Tuesday “he’s certainly a valuable person to this program, and we’re excited CP is still here.”
Cordarrelle Patterson wants to keep adding to his kick return record – ESPN – Atlanta Falcons Blog