So I barely watched the Minnesota Vikings first preseason game except for seeing a few snaps where the Vikes third string defense kept falling for the same Houston bootleg play run by Casey Keenum.
But a quick scan of the game stats made one thing clear - rookie wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson had one impressive debut for the Vikings.
I'll try not to get too excited about Patterson catching four passes for 54 yards (stats that would eclipse Jerome Simpson's best game last year - the man Patterson is currently behind on the Vikings depth chart) and returning a kickoff 50 yards the first time he touched a football in an NFL game situation because it was the preseason. Still, it's hard not to watch Patterson highlights from the game and think the Vikings may have something here.
And if they do have something here, it certainly has very positive ramifications for the Vikings passing game. I think we can expect Greg Jennings to be a factor. This is a guy who knows how to play and how to get open. I'm not expecting superstar stats from him - no matter how much money the Vikings are paying him - because I don't think he is a superstar. However he's an order of magnitude better than anyone else the Vikings have run out there at wide receiver (except for Sidney Rice's 2009 season) since Randy Moss left town the first time.
So the Vikings have Jennings. They've also got second-year player Jarius Wright, who I really like and who posted pretty decent numbers for a rookie who was a healthy scratch for the first half of the 2012 season. He's had a very good camp based on the writeups I've read. There is no doubt in my mind he's going to be an improved player and a threat opposing teams will have to account for. Another guy teams will have to account for is tight end Kyle Rudolph. Like Wright, I expect him to be an improved player this season. But even if he were to simply duplicate his stats from 2012, that's fine. He'll still be a handful. Even Jerome Simpson could be an asset. I don't see him to catching 50 passes for 700 yards like he did in Cincy in 2011. But if he catches 35 or 40 for 400 yards, that would be an improvement.
Patterson is the guy who could really make this work. If he can be what he looked like he could be against the Texans - a guy who can make catches in the middle of the field and on the sidelines while also being a deep threat, then you've got Jennings, Wright, Rudolph, Simpson and Patterson to deal with. That's five quality targets for Vikings quarterbacks to throw to. Opposing defenses can't eliminate them all.
Maybe the Vikings can have a passing game after all.