The performance from Jaret Patterson was one of the biggest highlights of Washington's preseason opener against New England on Thursday night. The undrafted rookie running back finished the game with 14 touches for 70 yards and was the team's leading rusher and receiver.
After shining at running back, head coach Ron Rivera said something about Patterson on Friday that caught many by surprise: he wants to test him out as a returner.
"We want to see Jaret Patterson get a couple of tries as well," Rivera said, specifically mentioning the rookie rusher as a possibility when asked about the team's options in the return game.
Throughout camp thus far, Patterson has not gotten any reps at either returner spot. At punt returner, the team has already tested an abundance of players at the position. Steven Sims Jr., Dax Milne, Isaiah Wright and DeAndre Carter have all gotten the chance to return punts in practice.
"I'm very excited with what DeAndre Carter showed us, excited about what Dax Milne did," Rivera said. "[Dax is] a solid young football player. He's a guy that has caught our attention. DeAndre has done a nice job for us as well. We have a good combination of guys."
On the team's first unofficial depth chart, Carter was listed as the starting punt returner. Danny Johnson, who returned kickoffs for Washington last year, was listed as the starting kick returner.
"I got a lot of trust in Danny. He did it for us last year and did it very well," Rivera said.
A Prince George's County native, Patterson has been among the fan favorites during training camp thus far. Yet, as currently the fourth-string running back, he has his work cut out for him to make the team.
But, perhaps if Patterson can stand out as a returner while continuing to make plays at his natural running back position, Rivera and his staff will have to think long and hard about keeping him on the 53-man roster.
If making the active roster is the goal for Patterson, then Thursday night's performance was a step in the right direction.
“[Patterson] didn’t surprise us. That’s what we saw in the young man," Rivera said on Thursday night. "He had a terrific college career and he’s had a good camp so far. I think we expected him to do some positive things, so it was good to watch.”