ATLANTA – Cordarrelle Patterson has moved around the formation in 2021 that his actual position didn't matter much.
Last year, however, didn't follow suit. He was a running back through and through, locked into a more traditional role due to Damien Williams' Week 1 injury and Tyler Allgeier still being green.
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He averaged more carries per game than ever. He was productive as heck when healthy, traveling 4.8 yards per carry. He had eight rushing touchdowns. He lost four full games and most of another due to injury, but his active times were spent working out of the backfield.
He performed well there, but Patterson prefers to be used like he was in 2021, when Arthur Smith unlocked his true potential as an offensive weapon.
His snaps show the contrast between seasons.
In 2022, Patterson took 304 snaps as a running back and 78 everywhere else. In 2021, he had 294 snaps at running back and 178 at other spots.
That's a big difference. Patterson said after Tuesday's minicamp practice that he wouldn't mind getting back to what he was doing two seasons back.
"That's just using me everywhere," said Patterson, a career receiver who formally switched positions after joining the Falcons. "Last year, I was more of a running back. We had injuries there so I had to step up. But, in 2021 we had running backs and receivers so they moved me around to a lot of places. It felt good to be used that much."
Head coach/offensive play caller Arthur Smith insinuated that could be Patterson's future, without necessarily spelling it out, in his Tuesday press conference.
"CP has done a lot of jobs.," Smith said. "You saw that his role in 2021 was a very different story than what he did in 2022. I don't want to get too specific in it – that will play itself out – but I'm excited CP is still here. He looks good. It's a good problem to have with guys who are versatile.
"Out of some necessity, last year he was used more traditionally as a running back. Those are good problems to have. … It gives us a lot of flexibility. … CP is certainly a valuable person to this program."
He can be a valuable, versatile piece because the Falcons are stocked at running back. Allgeier evolved and proved productive at the NFL level, setting the franchise' rookie rushing yards record with 1,035 yards at 4.9 yards per clip.
The Falcons have great expectations for the elusive, yet bruising back, but that didn't stop them from drafting University of Texas phenom Bijan Robinson at No. 8 overall. Robinson can do everything and will move all over the place.
Both of those guys will eat into Patterson's carry count – that might not be a bad thing for an 11th-year vet – but there will be opportunities for everyone in Smith's scheme.
That's why Patterson was excited by the Robinson add and has been impressed by what he has seen from him so far.
"He's just so humble and rooted in his faith," Patterson said. "He has come in and he's not nervous. He has adapted well and has learned the playbook so quick. As y'all have seen, he's out there everywhere. There's not one spot he can't play on this field. I'm excited to see that man do what he's supposed to do."
All this talent might help Patterson win more with the Falcons, a team he's truly committed to for a long haul.
"I'm in Year 11 right now," Patterson said. "I wish I could play the rest of my life but I can't. The ceiling's closing on me so I'm all in."
He'd like to play a lot longer if, he joked, he can maintain gainful employment.
" I still feel like I have six or seven years left in me," Patterson said with a smile. "It depends, though, if a team wants to keep me around that long. If they want me, I'm going to be here."