When minicamp wrapped up, the Patriots’ fastest player sought out a new speed coach.

Yes, Cordarrelle Patterson, who can look like Usain Bolt on any given kickoff return, believed there was still room to grow.

“He’s a 1 percenter,” said renowned sports performance coach Jed Hartigan, who worked with Patterson leading up to training camp. “He’s a top 1 percent guy in the league as far as top-end speed. But we don’t want to train them on what they’re good at. We want to train them on what they’re bad at.”

The floor for Patterson’s contribution with the Patriots is well-established. He ranks second all time in kickoff return average to Gale Sayers, and he’s been highly effective on plays like jet-sweeps, wide receiver screens, and even traditional handoffs. He’ll certainly impact the game in those areas.

It’s Patterson’s ceiling that remains undetermined. Despite his create-a-player athleticism, Patterson has never cracked 500 receiving yards in a season. He hasn’t made the leap from special teams standout to consistent wide receiver. And that might just be who he is, still useful.

But watch him in training camp – snagging a Tom Brady fastball using just his right hand, fending off tight coverage to secure a deep ball using only his left, breezing by the entire secondary for an afternoon stroll of a 65-yard touchdown – and you’ll come away convinced he can be more.


This was the idea when Patterson and his team, led by new agent Sean Kiernan, built a busy schedule for June and July.

Patterson’s work with Hartigan zeroed in on his acceleration, which didn’t match up with his top-end speed. An intense three-day session with retired NFL receivers coach Richard Mann introduced new tactics in hopes of polishing Patterson’s fundamentals, as well.

“He worked my (butt) off,” Patterson said. “I felt like he taught me a lot of things I didn’t know.”

Patterson visited the Charlotte, North Carolina, branch of Hartigan’s Velocity Sports Performance operation six days a week between minicamp and training camp. Hartigan was immediately struck by Patterson’s rare size-speed combination.

“Pound for pound, you could put him against anybody,” Hartigan said. “I mean, he’s got legit high 4.3 speed at 235 (pounds). It’s kind of funny, his movement patterns are very similar to Jadeveon Clowney, and they’re from the same hometown. They’re both so fast for their size and they move exactly the same.”

Hartigan used complex video and data analysis to pinpoint Patterson’s athletic deficiencies, if any existed. What he found: Patterson was “overstriding,” as if he was running a 200-meter dash. He could blow past anybody at the 15-yard mark of a sprint, but his starts needed work.


So Hartigan shortened Patterson’s stride length, increased his stride frequency and incorporated “mobility work” to help loosen his hips.

The result, Hartigan said, was significant improvement in Patterson’s 10-yard split, which went from 1.55 seconds to 1.47 seconds.

“It’s going to help him as a route-runner,” Hartigan said, “because his top-end speed is great for kick returns, but now he’s going to have that ability to kind of lose the defensive backs as far as his acceleration.”

By the end of his six weeks at Velocity, Patterson was “very comparable” with the fastest players Hartigan has seen in the 0-15 yard range.

The next step was bringing Mann, whose career coaching receivers spanned four decades and took him to eight NFL franchises, most recently the Steelers (he retired in January). Mann’s arrival in Pittsburgh coincided with Antonio Brown’s emergence, as the receiver nearly doubled his yardage – from 787 in 2012 to 1,499 the following season – in his first year with Mann.

Former Buccaneers wideout Antonio Bryant went for 1,248 yards in his first year under Mann. And former Chiefs receiver Derrick Alexander exploded for a career-best 1,391 yards at age 29 under Mann’s tutelage.


“Everybody knows his history of the guys he’s worked with,” Patterson said. “He pulled up some film for me, showed me all the stuff those guys were doing back in the day – 10, 15 years ago. It was a blessing.”

Mann introduced Patterson to what he calls “every-day drills,” which he developed and fine-tuned throughout his career. He showed Patterson cut-ups of receivers working the drills, and then presented examples of those drills paying off in games. The focus, Mann said, was Patterson’s release off the line of scrimmage and ability to create separation, the technical skills that aligned with Hartigan’s physical training.

“As far as fundamental techniques and receiver fundamentals, that’s what he lacks,” Mann said. “That’s my opinion.”

“It’s just, the route-running and the separation and coming out of the breaks and getting off the line of scrimmage, that’s all fundamental techniques,” Mann said. “And if you ain’t got that or somebody’s not teaching you, sometimes it’s hard to get it.”

Patterson admits he’s still acquiring the tools of the trade. “At receiver, there’s so much we can learn,” he said. “I’m going on six years in the league, and there’s a lot of stuff I didn’t know.”

So will a productive offseason translate into a breakthrough year?

Well, he’ll get an opportunity. The receiver depth is dwindling by the day for the Pats, and Patterson keeps stacking up incredible one-handed grabs in practice. He’s quicker off the line. He remains devastatingly fast and powerful with the ball in his hands. As always, he has immense potential.

“It’s the little things he didn’t have,” Mann said. “If he picks up on those, the sky’s the limit for him, because all he needs to do is be able to get that separation or get off the line.”

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