Before Pro Bowl with no kickoffs, Cordarrelle Patterson says specialists get no respect

The NFL eliminated kickoffs in the all-star game six years ago. This week, the league presented an alternative to onside kicks.

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Bears receiver/returner Cordarrelle Patterson participates in Thursday’s Pro Bowl practice.

AP

ORLANDO, Fla. —The Bears’ Cordarrelle Patterson was voted into the Pro Bowl as a special-teamer, though the Saints’ Deonte Harris is the NFC’s return specialist.

Neither will return kicks Sunday during the game, though. The NFL eliminated kickoffs in the Pro Bowl six years ago. This week, the league presented an alternative to onside kicks: The team that scores can give its opponent the ball at the 25 or run a fourth-and-15 play from its 25 — and keep the ball if it converts.

Patterson still will cover punts but has taken practice snaps at receiver.

“I just go out there and go fit in, man,” he said this week. “That’s the thing, man — us specialists, we’re trying to change the game for a lot of us. We don’t get the recognition that we should. Special teams, that’s a big, big, big part of football. We change the field position.”

Does he feel like it’s going away?

“There’s always a new rule,” he said. “They’re trying to eliminate us, but we just have to keep showing up every Sunday, Monday and Thursday. And show them what we’re capable of.”

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