Man-to-man coverage: Jamal-Rashad Patterson

Patterson, back in high school

The Bootleg sat down with Jamal-Rashad Patterson after a recent spring practice. A player who's only offered glimpses of his tantalizing potential thus far on the Farm, Patterson has been practicing with the first team this spring, raising the possibility that maybe this could be his year.

The Bootleg: How do you feel the first two weeks have gone?

Jamal-Rashad Patterson: I think they've gone great. It's a good thing that we kept the same system, the same offensive scheme, so we didn't have to learn anything new. If you've got the playbook down, you can get in there and play fast—play fast and make plays.

Q: How have you felt working with the first team pretty much the entire time?

A: It felt great. It's a great confidence booster, and it keeps you motivated, while at the same time keeping you on your toes. When you're rolling with the ones, everything is a battle. Everything you do, you put on tape, and that next man right behind you is trying to get that same position. It gives you a lot of confidence to be out there with the ones, you feel like you can be a huge contributor to the team and in special situations, be it third and long or fourth down, you can step up and make a play.

Q: How do you think the wide receiver battles are going, both in general, and for you in particular?

A: I think it's going great. All these guys out here have so much talent, so all you can do is push each other. It's not cutthroat, everyone is out here for the next man's success, so after someone makes a play, everyone is high-fiving, cheering them, telling them they did a great job. We're all out here to make plays as a unit. Someone might be good at a certain route or a certain type of play, and we'll give them that. We're just out here to make plays for the team.

Q: Can you talk about the skills that some of the younger wide receivers bring to the table that people may not have seen on the field last year, but that you guys might be able to showcase in 2011?

A: We have great talent. Keanu Nelson, he redshirted, he's really quick, an elusive type of guy. John Flacco has strong hands. Brandon Gottfried, strong hands. Jeff Trojan is really fluid with the offense, a real smart kid, he gets stuff right, he knows his plays. Darren Daniel has been going back and forth. He can make plays with his size at wideout, but he's been doing great at quarterback with the read game. That's the freshman class. I'm stepping up right now. As a younger guy, I'm trying to make plays when I can. We're going hard, blocking, everything. That's Drew Terrell, Jemari Roberts. Then you have more of our leader type, Griff Whalen. He's the leader of the group. Chris Owusu, too, when he gets back, but Whalen is pretty much the leader of the group. But we all try and uplift each other when we can.

Q: How do you feel your chemistry is with Andrew Luck?

A: I think it's great. We come out here, and we're throwing when we have free time. During the summer, we have plenty of time. During practice, we come early, stay late. It's going great, it's real comfortable.

Q: What do you feel you've been able to improve on the most over your first couple of years, and what do you feel you still have to improve upon?

A: Oh, the system. It's a real complex system. Coming out of high school, most guys have the number system, where you read your bracelet, or your wristband, or whatever—if it's a six route, you have the six. So it's mostly the system. It slows you down a little bit. It doesn't enable you to play as fast as you want to when you're hesitant and wondering if you're doing the right thing or not, but now I can play fast, catch the ball, make plays and that's great. One thing that helped a lot was technique. Coach Pep Hamilton and Coach Aaron Moorehead were teaching them—sinking your hips, keeping your shoulders square, not giving any indicator to the defensive backs so you can get open, get the separation you need, get the ball, make a guy miss, and make a play.

Q: You mentioned Hamilton and Moorehead. Hamilton came in last year; did you see a big change then? And going forward now, with Hamilton taking over as offensive coordinator, have you seen any differences?

A: Coach Pep Hamilton is still helping us tremendously. We have Coach Aaron Moorehead as well. Both of those guys help us a lot. You have to love playing for coaches like that, who love football. They love the game, they always have cut-ups for us. They're always watching film. They love the game, and you have to love when your coaches have the same amount of passion as you do.

Q: What's your perspective on the backup quarterback battle? When you're out there catching throws, who is sticking out in your mind?

A: All the quarterbacks are great. We have Andrew, but these quarterbacks could play anywhere. Just having Andrew, who is as great of a player as he is, be a mentor for those guys, it's perfect. They can pick things up and make their game better by watching him and learning from him. But as far as the quarterbacks go, all the guys are having a great spring so far. Robbie Picazo has had his mono, but he's still on top of the game and the plays, so he's basically been out there like a coach helping guys out.


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