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Steelers Are Rigorously Testing Cordarrelle Patterson for New Kickoff Rule



Pittsburgh Steelers RB Cordarrelle Patterson

Cordarrelle Patterson is one of the best, if not the best, kickoff returners of all-time. He has an NFL record nine kickoff returns throughout his career, and he averages 29.3 yards per kickoff return.

That’s why the Pittsburgh Steelers signed Patterson shortly after the new kickoff rule was passed at the NFL owner’s meetings in late March. With the condensed space, vision will be crucial for returners on kickoffs now. And Patterson certainly fits the bill with his experience as a running back.

Under Arthur Smith in Atlanta, Patterson finished the 2022 seasons with 144 carries, 695 yards and eight touchdowns. He topped his career highs in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns after just one season.

Nevertheless, the new kickoff rule will present some different challenges. It’s very unique. Here’s an example of the new kickoff format, which was adopted from the XFL.

According to Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Steelers rigorously tested Patterson for the new kickoff rule at OTAs and minicamp.

“[Cordarrelle Patterson] has a love-hate relationship with [the new rules]. One day, he enjoys it. The next day, he hates it, probably because Danny Smith and co. are making it tough on him in practice, busting out all sorts of different kicks: sharp line drives, squibbers, and Patterson maybe he’s the Danny Glover: ‘I’m getting to old for this,'” Batko said during a recent episode of The North Shore Drive podcast.

Pittsburgh Steelers Cordarrelle Patterson

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Cordarrelle Patterson at the team’s mandatory minicamp, June 11, 2024 – Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

The kickoff rule is new for every team but Patterson is hopeful that his preparation helps him have a head start come the first game of the season.

“We got to take advantage of it this season,” Patterson said. “It’s going to be new for everybody this season so we just got to figure it out and get a head start on everybody… It’s going to different, very different but we have been planning it for a while so hopefully we can get a jump start on it.”

Patterson played under Smith for the last three seasons as a member of the Falcons and he credited that relationship and the one he has with Mike Tomlin with why he decided to sign with the Steelers. He said it was a no-brainer.

“Honestly, the coaches,” Patterson told reporters. “Coach Arthur and Mike [Tomlin.] He came to my Pro-Day when I was coming out of college. We have had a connection for a very long time. This was my first time that I got the opportunity to play for him so it was basically a no-brainer.”

Along with being the team’s kick returner, Patterson will also serve as the No. 3 running back.

“I’m not coming in here to step on anybody’s toes,” Patterson said. “I know my role. I know what I can bring to this team so whatever they need me to do, I am that guy. If they don’t need me until Week 8, I am here. I am here to help these guys get going.”