It’s time to try something new if the Bears want to get their money’s worth out of Cordarrelle Patterson. They certainly didn’t last season, so coach Matt Nagy is moving him from wide receiver to running back.
Patterson worked mostly as a running back Monday in the team’s first full practice of the year, though he did take some reps at receiver during individual drills.
“We want to be able to get the most out of him,” Nagy said. “He’s a very talented guy, as you guys have seen in the past last year. We just feel like when you have weapons like that, you want to find ways to get him the ball.”
Last season, after signing Patterson to a two-year, $10 million deal, he got 17 targets as a receiver, 17 carries as a runner and played 18.9 percent of the offensive snaps. There were three games in which he appeared for just two plays on offense.
With that limited opportunity, Patterson managed just 11 catches for 83 yards and a rushing total of 103 yards. He was all-pro and made the Pro Bowl as a special teamer because of his tenacity as a kick returner and gunner.
Patterson dabbled in running back his first five seasons before the Patriots made that his primary position in 2018. He rushed a career-high 42 times for 228 yards and a touchdown to help them win the championship that season.
Patterson’s career average of 7.6 yards per carry is the highest by any player with 100 carries since the merger. When asked last year about playing other positions, such as running back and tight end, he said, “There’s nothing I believe I can’t do on the football field.”
The Bears could use help all around on offense, but their ground game is particularly concerning. They were 27th in yards per game (91.1) and 29th in yards per attempt (3.7).With that performance in mind and relatively thin depth at the position, giving Patterson a shot in the backfield is worthwhile. He’ll compete with David Montgomery and Tarik Cohen for a share of the carries.
“It’s been a good room for him so far,” Nagy said. “I’m excited to see what he can do there.”