Patterson, Harmon hope to give Falcons a boost

Chicago Bears returner Cordarrelle Patterson (84) returns a kickoff 104 yards for a touchdown to open the third quarter against the Minnesota Vikings on Monday, Nov. 16, 2020 at Soldier Field in Chicago. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/TNS)
Caption
Chicago Bears returner Cordarrelle Patterson (84) returns a kickoff 104 yards for a touchdown to open the third quarter against the Minnesota Vikings on Monday, Nov. 16, 2020 at Soldier Field in Chicago. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

Credit: TNS

New Falcons kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson wants the team’s fans to know one thing: “We’re bringing it out.”

A four-time Pro Bowl returner, Patterson and safety Duron Harmon, who’s played in four Super Bowls, met with the media virtually Wednesday, as new members of the team.

Patterson played the past two seasons with the Bears, while Harmon, who was with New England from 2013-19, started all 16 games at safety for the Lions in 2020.

Patterson, 30, one of the NFL’s top returners, also will play running back. He was drafted as a wide receiver out of Tennessee, but has carved a niche in the NFL as a returner.

He was shifted to part-time running back while with New England in 2018.

“Matt Ryan texted me when I signed here,” Patterson said. “He said, welcome to the team. You have to feel good about things like that. The head dog in charge texting you and welcoming you in, that feels good.”

Patterson, listed at 6-foot-2 and 227 pounds, made the Pro Bowl and was named All-Pro in 2019 and 2020 while playing for the Bears. He also was a Pro Bowl player and made All-Pro in 2013 and 2016 with the Vikings.

He was drafted in the first round (29th overall) by the Vikings in 2013.

In 2020, Patterson returned 35 kicks for 1,017 yards, with a 104-yard touchdown. For his career, Patterson has averaged 29.8 yards per kick return and scored eight touchdowns.

Patterson believes he can join the Falcons’ array of offensive weapons.

“Julio (Jones), you can’t say enough about that guy, and we got (Calvin) Ridley,” Patterson said. “I played with his brother (Riley Ridley). Both of those guys are great. I’m excited.”

Patterson will reunite with Falcons offensive coordinator Dave Ragone, who was an assistant with the Bears last season. Patterson rushed a career-high 64 times for the Bears in 2020.

“Honestly man, it don’t matter where they put me on the football field,” Patterson said. “I just go out and try to make a play for my team. If they want me at running back, receiver, quarterback, tight end or whatever. Just put me out there, and when my name is called, I just go out there and make a play. That’s something I’ve been doing my whole life.”

Patterson apparently wanted a heavier load at running back last season.

“Last year didn’t go as planned at running back. Hopefully this year will go better,” Patterson said.

Harmon, 30, has played in 127 games, making 45 starts, over eight NFL seasons, with the Patriots and the Lions. He has recorded 248 tackles (191 solo) with two tackles for loss and has 19 interceptions and 33 passes defensed in his career.

Harmon (6-1, 205) was drafted by the Patriots in the third round of the 2013 draft out of Rutgers.

Devonta Freeman of the Falcons avoids a tackle by Duron Harmon of the New England Patriots during Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Caption
Devonta Freeman of the Falcons avoids a tackle by Duron Harmon of the New England Patriots during Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Credit: Tom Pennington

Credit: Tom Pennington

“In this league, it’s hard do anything without a quarterback,” Harmon said. “Matt Ryan is one of the better quarterbacks in the league. Obviously, they have an explosive offense with explosive skill players.”

Harmon doesn’t think the Falcons, who are coming off a 4-12 season, are rebuilding.

“If you look at their season, there was probably four of five games where they could have won last year,” Harmon said. “You know, one-possession games that could have went either way. If you take that, then you go from 4-12 to 9-7 and (close to) the playoffs.”

Harmon has played in 17 playoff games, including four Super Bowls. The Patriots won Super Bowls 49, 51, and 53. They lost Super Bowl 52 to the Eagles.

In Super Bowl 51 against the Falcons, Harmon played 29 defensive snaps (59%) and made three tackles in the game. He also was beaten by Taylor Gabriel for a 35-yard gain.

“The one thing about this league is that there is a very, very thin line between being a good team and a bad team,” Harmon said. “I just think obviously, the pieces are there. You have to work. I just feel like the pieces are there. I’m going to come in and work my butt off and kind of see where it goes.”

Harmon was impressed by the Falcons hiring Arthur Smith as their new head coach.

“I kind of reached out to the Falcons,” Harmon said. “I felt it would be a great opportunity for myself. Just knowing some of the coaches that are here. I played against Arthur Smith’s offense the last three years. Just a dominant offense, running the ball, throwing the ball.”

Harmon believes he fits into the defensive scheme that new defensive coordinator Dean Pees will play.

“He’s been a great defensive coordinator in this league for a long time,” Harmon said. “He’s coached a lot of great safeties. Just the scheme that he runs, it involves the safeties a lot. He’s had a lot of good playmakers at safety.”

Harmon believes he’ll fit in fine.

“You have to be smart,” Harmon said. “You have to be able to disguise. You have to be able to do a lot of different things. I just thought that for myself that it would be a good fit.”

He also had a relationship with Falcons special-teams coordinator Marquice Williams, who also was with the Lions last season.