“I think he’s done a great job, whether he’s running the football for us or catching the ball out of the backfield or really changing the game in special teams the way teams account for him and different things that they’ll do,” Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said. “He’s made a huge impact for us. ... I’ve really enjoyed playing with him the first three weeks.”
Patterson, after being a first-round pick as a wide receiver, has carved a niche in the NFL as special-teams player and now as a running back.
“Nothing (is) promised,” Patterson said. “Being out here, this is not promised. You have got to wake up and thank the Lord every day we come here to have the opportunity to play football. You can’t take it for granted, you have to come out here and just have your head up and just play ball.”
Ryan believes Patterson will be key as the offense seeks to improve.
“He’s an important piece of us being a good offense and team moving forward,” Ryan said.
He rushed seven times for 20 yards, caught six passes for 82 yards and had 40 yards on two kickoff returns against the Giants. It was the first time a Falcons player had 100 scrimmage yards with at least five carries and five catches since 2019.
His 82 yards receiving were the most by a Falcons running back since Devonta Freeman (85) in Week 17 of the 2017 season.
“He’s making an impact, and it’s fun to work with guys like that,” Falcons coach Arthur Smith said. “Allows you to be creative. He can handle it.”
Patterson’s 28-yard reception got the game-winning drive started against the Giants in the fourth quarter.
“We named him our player of the game on offense,” Smith said. “He’s made a huge impact. He was a game captain this past week. Just really enjoyed getting to work with CP and to see where it goes from here.”
In 2013, Patterson was drafted by the Vikings as a wide receiver coming out of Tennessee. He caught a career-high 52 passes for 453 yards for the Vikings in 2016.
Patterson had a career-high 64 carries last season with the Bears. With 21 carries through three games, he’s on pace for 112 carries in 2021.
“I like to think that I know how his mind works and what he can handle,” said Falcons offensive coordinator Dave Ragone, who worked with Patterson in Chicago the past two seasons. “This is a football player. He loves football. It’s not just certain aspects of it, he loves everything that comes with it.”
Patterson was happy to reunite with Ragone and quarterbacks coach Charles London, who also was with the Bears.
“Honestly, when Rags and coach London got the job over here, two familiar faces for me and we brought a defensive coach (Ted Monachino) over here too. (With) those two guys on offense, it was kind of a no-brainer for me,” Patterson said. “I’ve been with those guys for the last two years. Who wouldn’t want to be in a system they kind of know. ... You’ve got coaches over there that you really know. That was a big factor in it.”
Ragone believes the Falcons can put more on Patterson’s plate.
“Again, whatever we feel makes us a better football team, a better offense we are going to use all of our different pieces the right way,” Ragone said. “Get those guys in position, and CP is no different.”
Patterson has the second most carries on the team behind Mike Davis, who has 36 carries for 137 yards.
“Coach Arthur, Rags and (running backs) coach Des (Kitchings), they are doing a heck of a job just trying to get the playmakers the ball,” Patterson said. “That’s all this league is about. Trying to put (the ball) in your playmakers’ hands. When your number is called, have to go and make a play.”
Patterson thoroughly enjoys his roles on special teams, which include paying gunner on the punt coverage unit in addition to kickoff returner. It was Patterson, who downed Cameron Nizialek’s punt at the 3-yard line to flip the field in the second quarter against the Giants.
“Honestly, that’s my bread and butter,” Patterson said. “I probably wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for special teams. That’s something big. A lot of people overlook special teams. A lot of guys don’t even play special teams because their pride gets in the way. You have to put your pride down and go out there and play football.”
Patterson has taken punt returner Avery Williams under his wings. Williams, a defensive back by trade, has spent time in some of the offensive meetings.
“Honestly, I think Avery had the best training camp of the defensive players here,” Patterson said. “Every day, he had an interception or he was making big plays.”
Williams was the upback on a play in Week 2 when Tampa Bay tried to play keep-away from Patterson by not kicking the ball deep.
“If they are going to try to play keep-away, why not get Avery involved,” Patterson said. “We saw what he did in college (six punt-return touchdowns). Why not just bring him along quick. When he gets that kick, he’s going to go out there and make a play for us.”
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Falcons’ 2021 schedule features trip to London, January trip to Buffalo
Atlanta Falcons Schedule
Eagles 32, Falcons 6
Buccaneers 48, Falcons 25
Falcons 17, Giants 14
Washington FT at Falcons, Oct. 3 at 1 p.m.
New York Jets vs. Falcons in London, Oct. 10 at 9:30 a.m.
Falcons at Miami Dolphins, Oct. 24 at 1 p.m.
Here’s the rest of full schedule