When you think of the Minnesota Vikings’ special teams, the name that pops to mind is probably Cordarrelle Patterson.
Patterson has been around since being a first-round draft pick (the Vikings traded four picks to move up) in 2013. Though he has failed to live up to his promise as a receiver, he is year in and year out an outstanding kickoff returner.
In his rookie year, Patterson put his name in the record books with a 109-yard kick return. Yes, against Green Bay. He’s had five returns for touchdowns in his four years, including a 104-yard jaunt earlier in the year. Other than in 2014 (25.6 return average), he has been superb: 32.4 in 2013, 31.8 in 2015 and a league-leading 31.5 this year.
Mason Crosby can contribute greatly to a Green Bay Packers win by sending his kickoffs deep into or out of the end zone, on Saturday. Even with the cold temperatures of the past two games, Crosby has done quite well at this.
Patterson, though, is not the only return threat on the Vikings’ roster.
Cornerback Marcus Sherels ranks second in the league among punt returners (with 17 or more returns), with an average of 13.4 yards per return. He is also one of only two players to have two returns for touchdowns this year. Flyweight Sherels stands 5’10” and weighs 175 covered in snow. Like Patterson, the 29-year old now has five return touchdowns in his career.
Green Bay punter Jacob Schum, therefore, can also play a valuable role for the team this weekend by way of kicking high and relatively short, or by directing his punts out of bounds.
Finally, Jeff Janis, who is getting back to his 2015 form of being the first punt defender downfield, can also help out by forcing Sherels into making fair catches.
Since Minnesota has a low-scoring offense, good special teams work by Green Bay will make it that much harder for the Vikings to score more than 16 points — their average over the last nine games.
Fundamentals and no stupid penalties.
Stay in your lane on coverage and catch the damn ball.