Patterson’s rookie season was ‘a ride’


DETROIT – Riley Patterson knew life as an NFL kicker could be volatile.

But even Patterson couldn’t have predicted how his rookie season would go.

“It’s been a race for sure,” Patterson said. “I have lived in five different cities this year. I have bounced from Memphis, Minnesota, to Boston and now to Detroit. It was all a blessing and quite fun.

Patterson made his NFL debut two weeks ago with the Detroit Lions after short stints on the training teams for the Minnesota Vikings and New England Patriots.


The Lions signed Patterson on Nov. 16 with the New England practice team. He made his debut in Week 12 with two successful extra point attempts in a 16-14 loss to Chicago on Thanksgiving.

“It was pretty surreal,” said Patterson, a 2017 graduate of Edwardsville High School. “We were playing Thanksgiving for the first game. It was wild and a lot of fun. I had my family here. It was a cool Thanksgiving for sure.

On Sunday in Week 13, Patterson was 3: 3 on field goals, including a long 49, with two successful extra point attempts in Detroit’s first win of the season. The Lions won 29-27 on a touchdown reception by Amon-Ra St. Brown.

Patterson became Detroit’s first rookie kicker since Jason Hanson in 1992 to score three field goals in a game. Patterson succeeded from 31, 41 and 49 yards.

“It was pretty cool going out and scoring my first goal and then going out and hitting them all pretty well, as well as my extra points. It was good to have all of this under my belt, ”said Patterson. “We had perfect shots and perfect takes the whole game. The block was perfect – no one approached me the whole game. We were firing at full speed.

After the game, Lions coach Dan Campbell, who was celebrating his first victory, dedicated the match ball to the Oxford community after a school shootout that left four people dead.

“It affected a lot of people on the team and the coaching staff with what happened at Oxford,” Patterson said. “It was a little different. It was almost like something above us was helping us win this game. It was moving for a lot of people.

“I hope their families and everyone had fun during those three hours to help ease the pain a bit. We really dedicated this victory to them.

Patterson and the Lions will travel to Detroit for a Sunday game at 3:05 p.m. for Week 14.

Detroit will finish the 2021 schedule at home against Arizona on December 19, in Atlanta on December 26, in Seattle on January 2, and at home against Green Bay on January 9.

Patterson will use the remainder of the season as an audition for the Lions and the rest of the league.

“Every time you step on the pitch, whether it’s in training or in games, you put yourself to the test. I’ve learned throughout this process – in Minnesota, New England, in the draft and here – every rep is evaluated. You have to do your best every day. There are no days off, ”Patterson said. “Every kick is important.”

It was a long journey for Patterson from Edwardsville to Detroit with detours to Minnesota and New England.

Patterson was signed as an undrafted free agent in Memphis by the Vikings on May 5, but was placed on the PUP (Physically Incapable to Perform) list on July 26. It was waived on August 25 and subsequently reached an injury settlement with the organization. .

“It was very unfortunate, but it is what it is,” Patterson said. “I think you have to be good and you also have to be lucky.”

Patterson returned to the Edwardsville area for rehab.

Once healthy, Patterson tried Tennessee, Indianapolis and New England.

The Patriots signed Patterson to their practice team on October 19 after he trained for the team on September 30 and October 15.

With New England, Patterson was able to learn from veteran Pro Bowl kicker Nick Folk and coach Bill Belichick.

“It was pretty awesome,” Patterson said. “I spoke to both of them quite a bit. They are both very knowledgeable and know a lot about the trade. I just tried to soak up as much as I could. They are all very good people who care a lot about doing well. “

As a member of the practice squad, Patterson said he “did everything everyone else did but didn’t play a game.”

In the NFL, teams can have up to 16 players on the practice squad. Players are not permitted to dress or travel for matches. Unless protected by teams, players can be signed by other teams.

Due to unpredictability, Patterson did not make permanent living arrangements.

“I lived in a lot of different hotels last year. I was living in a hotel there after I finally got an Airbnb, ”Patterson said.

On November 15, Patterson was claimed by the Detroit Lions from the New England practice team and was on a flight to his new organization at 5:50 a.m. on November 16. He signed his contract later today.

“It was a quick turnaround,” said Patterson, who currently lives in a hotel in Detroit.

After spending the first week on the practice squad, Patterson fulfilled his dream of playing in the NFL on Thanksgiving.

“You don’t really dream of being on the practice squad. You want to go out there and play, ”Patterson said. “I am grateful that Detroit gave me the opportunity to do this.”

Patterson was the sixth kicker signed by the Lions this season.

Detroit kicker in the first eight weeks was Austin Seibert, who suffered an injury. Seibert graduated from Belleville West High School.

“It’s crazy,” Patterson said of two former Southwestern Conference kickers playing for the Lions.

Since scoring his first extra point following a 17-yard touchdown pass from Jared Goff to TJ Hockenson in the third quarter of the 16-14 loss to Chicago, Patterson has come home with the Lions.

“I was a little nervous before and usually I’m not, but I was before this one,” Patterson said. “I feel a lot more confident now, but it’s pretty surreal to be there with the pros. It’s much more different than at university. Everyone in the stands really cares a lot. It’s cool to represent a city like Detroit.

Prior to Patterson, Morris Bradshaw was the last EHS graduate to score in the NFL when he landed an 11-yard touchdown reception for the New England Patriots in a 30-19 victory over the Buffalo Bills on January 2, 1983, in his final match. He ended his career with 12 touchdowns.

Wilbur Volz was the only other former EHS player to score. He landed a 1-yard touchdown in a 38-14 victory for the Buffalo Bills over the Baltimore Colts in the regular season final on Nov. 27, 1949.

Patterson is the eighth former Edwardsville Tiger to play in an NFL game. He joins Buffalo defensive end AJ Epenesa as one of the two currently active. Defensive end Craig James is on the Philadelphia Eagles practice squad.

Other former Tigers to play in the NFL include defensive tackle Vincent Valentine (2016-18), wide receiver Bradshaw (1974-82), defensive back Steve Carpenter (1980-81), defensive tackle / guard. Bob Hoskins (1970-75) and running back / defensive back Volz (1949).

In Memphis, Patterson was 64 for 83 on field goals and 240 of 247 on extra point attempts for 432 points with 21 games in double digits. He finished the 2020 season as the country’s active leader in points by a kicker. Of Patterson’s 295 career kickoffs, 162 have been hit.

In high school, Patterson was a multi-year starter for the Tigers. He was 81 of 91 on extra point attempts and 13 of 17 on field goal attempts with a career 54 yards. Patterson was a three-star rookie and ranked fourth best kicker in the country by Kohl’s Kicking and Punting. He was ranked ninth by 247sports.com and 11th by ESPN.

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