Cordarrelle Patterson joins fans during a break at Atlanta Falcons training camp

Cordarrelle Patterson joins fans during a break at Atlanta Falcons training camp

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Happens in almost every workout. During a special team period – whether related to punts or after the first few kick return reps, Cordarrelle Patterson walks to the edge of the Atlanta Falcons training ground, past the S.A.F.E. guardrails and against the thin rope.

The crowd gathers around and starts begging, begging and sometimes screaming.

“Patterson, are you going to sign this?” “CP, take a picture with me?” “Patterson. Patterson. Patterson.”

After Patterson had the best year of his NFL career in his first year with the Falcons in 2021 as an offensive option with 618 yards and six touchdowns, as well as 548 yards and five more touchdowns, he became a fan favorite.

Not just because of his game on the field, but for things like that off it. Patterson engages with supporters regularly. Before every game, he plays ball with the fans, no matter the team, at home and away.

This, however, is new. Stepping away during practice to sign autographs and take pictures – even one where he was holding a baby – is next level, even for him.

“I think it’s the first. I think it’s the first,” Patterson said. “I’m getting old, man. I don’t know.”

There is some practical reason for this as well. Patterson, 31, is one of the Falcons’ oldest players. And during periods when he’s not doing anything, he wants to keep moving.

Of course, he could be doing this on the sidelines with his teammates. But this is a training ground. The fans are there. So why not give them a little more interaction?

“It’s just that I’m not doing anything during this period,” Patterson said. “So I can sit and get hard or walk around and sign autographs. So I choose to sign autographs and get loose.”

It’s a brilliant move, both as a different way to keep moving and to endear yourself to fans. He did so through his social media in the offseason, where he openly campaigned to return to Atlanta as a free agent — a deal that was eventually struck while he was on a beach vacation in March.

Patterson played Atlanta like it was a different level of fun for him and mixing in with the people who cheer him on, sign him over and support him is one way to do that.

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