The two newest members of the Bears' offense, RB Mike Davis and WR-KR Cordarrelle Patterson, have at least a few things in common.
For instance, they both bring reputations for being versatile to a Matt Nagy scheme that requires it. Davis was among the NFL's most reliable pass-catching backs last season, which was also his breakthrough as a runner with a career-high 112 carries, 514 yards and a 4.6-yard clip. Patterson is listed as a receiver but became the Patriots' emergency tailback last season, when he had 42 carries and 228 yards (5.4 YPC), in addition to 21-247-3 receiving.
Patterson, of course, is also No. 2 in NFL history in kick return average (30.0 yards, trailing Bears Hall of Famer Gale Sayers' 30.6) and tied for No. 3 with six kick return touchdowns, one ahead of future Bears Hall of Famer Devin Hester.
"Every chance I get to get the ball in my hands, I just want to make explosive plays for my team," Patterson said on a teleconference Thursday, one day after his new, two-year, $10 million contract became official. "So it doesn’t matter where they line me up at, I’m just trying to go out there and play for my team."
Patterson will be the primary kickoff returner from the day he first steps on the Halas Hall practice fields for a Bears team that ranked last in the NFL in average per return last season. But Davis' exact role isn't immediately clear. He alluded to that three-down ability Tuesday, also explaining that his career year resulted from earning more opportunities in the Seahawks' three-headed backfield monster.
“A running back that can do everything — catch, run, make guys miss, can also pass protect. I’m here to do it all,” Davis said. " ... It just felt like every time I was able to get in [last season], I was able to make a spark or make a big play."
How often Davis is on the field in the Bears offense is still to be determined. Although the contract he signed suggests he's already the preferred option over Jordan Howard, the two-time, 1,000-plus yard back and trade candidate remains on the roster — for now — and the Bears almost assuredly will enlist more RB help, likely in next month's draft.
Both players clearly are hungry, too, and Patterson, who is fresh off winning a Super Bowl with the Patriots, pointed to the culture reigning Coach of the Year Matt Nagy has built as a driving force.
"I looked at the things Coach Nagy did this year and it was a no-brainer for me," Patterson said. "... The swag they’ve brought in this whole entire year, the great year they had. The culture their coach brought in, I want to be a part of that culture."
After being steeped for a year in "The Patriot Way" under Bill Belichick — arguably the greatest coach in any sport, much less the NFL — that's the highest of praise for Nagy.
Davis, who was held to only two yards from scrimmage on four touches during the Bears' Week 2 Monday night victory at Soldier Field last season, has taken notice of more than the Bears' culture and overall talent level following their first division title in eight years.
"Khalil Mack is everything, man," Davis said of the Bears' All Pro outside linebacker in a sentiment echoed by Patterson, his former Raiders teammate. "He’s everything as advertised. The whole entire defense is great, man. A great defense will take you a long way and actually they played a big role in the season last year with the guys going 12-4."
Nagy and Mack clearly have helped make the Bears a destination, but one all-time legend also continues to resonate with Patterson.
"Just the hype and, as a younger guy, coming in he was one of the Gods," Patterson recalls of his first visit to Soldier Field, when Hester was still a Bear and Patterson, then a Vikings rookie, returned the opening kickoff 105 yards for a touchdown. "Getting to see him in person it was just, it was like a dream come true."
"It really is an honor and a blessing to be here," he said. "I'm actually just in the process of trying to get his phone number. Hopefully, he can give me tips of how to be as great as he was when he was here."