ALAMEDA, Calif. — Al Davis would have loved — absolutely loved — Cordarrelle Patterson.
With Patterson’s size (6-foot-2, 220 pounds) and speed (a 4.42-second 40 time), the late Oakland Raiders managing general partner — who wanted to form a team based on the power of the New York Yankees and daring of the Brooklyn Dodgers teams he saw growing up — likely would have let his coaching staff know he wanted to see the raw but dangerous Patterson used in a variety of ways by offensive coordinator Todd Downing.
And the hard-to-please Davis might have even cracked a smile watching Patterson break off a 43-yard touchdown run — as a pseudo running back taking an inside handoff after going in motion from the left side — in the Raiders’ 45-20 home-opener win over the New York Jets last weekend.
“When Todd called in the play, I was just excited because you know we [had] been talking about it all week,” Patterson said. “You know we worked on it all week. They said we could get a touchdown and that’s what we did. We executed. It starts in practice and to come in here just feeling it out and it felt good to get in the end zone for the first time.
“I was just thinking on the sideline, ‘Oh, my god, we have so many weapons.’ Sky is the limit for these guys, for us, and being part of this organization — it’s amazing. I’m glad I’m here, it feels good, and you know there’s weapons all around the board.”
Yes, quarterback Derek Carr has many toys with which to play from behind one of the best offensive lines in the game, from receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree to tight end Jared Cook to running back Marshawn Lynch and mighty mites DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard.
Throw in Patterson, and if he becomes consistent as a threat, rather than as a gadget player, good luck to any defense trying to stop Oakland. Especially Sunday night in Washington on national television.
“Yeah, it’s like, ‘Great, at least they’re not handing it to Marshawn,’ but then they hand it to Cordarrelle and you’re like, ‘What the hell? Who is this guy?’” said Washington coach Jay Gruden. “I’ve known Cordarrelle for a while. He did some of that in [college at] Tennessee.
“We actually had him in for a visit in the offseason and tried to recruit him here. He chose the Raiders, but very explosive guy. You have to know where he is. Really, you have to know where he is. You have to be ready for the reverses, him at halfback and all that good stuff. Great athlete, great talent.”
The possibility of playing multiple offensive positions, in addition to returning kicks — he was an All-Pro in that capacity — helped Patterson decide to sign a two-year deal that can be voided after one with $5 million guaranteed after four star-crossed seasons with the Minnesota Vikings.
“We mean what we say when we intend to get people involved, whether it be C.P. or somebody else in the offense,” Downing said. “What’s been fun about him is it’s easy for us to invest in finding ways to get him the football because he invests so much in trying to do things the right way. I remember talking to you guys in the spring about the leaps and bounds he had taken as a receiver. That’s because he was purposeful and really dove into becoming better as a true receiver. Just the mechanics of playing the receiver position.”
The Raiders then started using Patterson as a runner.
“He really wanted to understand the blocking scheme and how he could help set up the blocks,” Downing said. “In his mind, maybe pair it with a return or something like that. It’s been really impressive to watch him take ownership of everything we’ve given him. As a coach, that’s what you’re looking for. It makes you want to invest in that guy and give him more.”