It's been quite the week for Jaret Patterson.
Washington's undrafted rookie officially made the team's initial 53-man roster on Tuesday after an impressive preseason. General manager Martin Mayhew called Patterson a "special" player and compared him to two former Washington backs.
Then on Wednesday, Patterson received a shoutout from one of the NFL's best running backs of all-time, Lions great Barry Sanders.
"Excited to see what you can do... just not against the @Lions," Sanders wrote on Twitter. "Good luck @JaretPatterson."
Speaking with reporters on Wednesday, Patterson said that Sanders has been a fan of his since he starred at the University of Buffalo and that the continuous support from the Lions legend helps keep his confidence high.
"Barry has been a fan of mine since college," Patterson said. "That's always been my guy. It just means a lot, one of the GOATs in my position recognizing me since college to now, it just gives you more confidence that you belong and this is where I'm supposed to be."
Wednesday was not the first time Sanders has given a shoutout to Patterson on social media. Back in May, the former Detroit standout wished Patterson luck in D.C., saying "us little guys have to have each other's back." Sanders also shouted out Patterson on Twitter back in November when he went off against Kent State, rushing for 408 yards and eight touchdowns.
Part of the reason Sanders grew attached to Patterson was that the two running backs are a similar size. Patterson is listed at 5-foot-8, 195 lbs., the same height as Sanders and just five pounds lighter. Those statures are considered on the smaller side for NFL standards, but Sanders was excellent at knowing how to use their size to their advantage. That's something Patterson hopes to be able to accomplish at the pro level, too.
"It just gives you that confidence. If Barry sees something in you, then you have something," Patterson said. "I feel like he doesn't just sit on social media and be like, 'I'm gonna tweet this guy.' He's the GOAT in my eyes [at] the position. So I feel like that gives me more confidence. If he thinks I can be special, then I can be special."
Additionally, Patterson said he wasn't surprised that Sanders congratulated him on Twitter after he made Washington's 53-man roster and that they were in the process of making plans to meet one another before the pandemic hit last year. The rookie hopes that meeting can happen soon.
"I wanted to meet him in person. He was saying, 'man, you're a great player.,'" Patterson said. "We were just talking, and I was like 'man, we have to meet up.' And we [were], but then Covid happened. Hopefully one of these days we can meet up."