ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — As a young NFL player develops and becomes more comfortable, his production grows and so does his right to express himself.
Broncos’ receiver Tim Patrick, in his fourth season and third on the Broncos’ active roster, already has set career-bests in the three big catch categories of receptions (31), yards (444) and touchdowns (3). This in a season that is barely half over. He’s also been around long enough to swell a dislike for the Raiders as a whole and safety Johnathan Abram in particular.
Patrick couldn’t resist knocking a football out of Abram’s hands after an incomplete pass in the fourth quarter of the Broncos’ 37-12 loss to Las Vegas last Sunday. Abram -- who is not averse to hitting hard, hitting late and yapping about it – gave Patrick a hard, two-hand shove to the chest. Patrick reacted by throwing a haymaker at Abram.
As punishment, Patrick was not allowed the chance for some garbage-time stats as he was ejected, along with cornerback Isaiah Johnson, who had retaliated by punching back at the Bronco.
“First, I don’t like him,’’ Patrick said in a sit-down interview with 9NEWS this week. “We were losing. He pushed me. I hate the Raiders. It’s just the rivalry, honestly. I let my frustration get the best of me but I’m going to get fined so I won’t say, I wouldn’t take it back but … “
He did get fined but it could have been worse -- $4,412. Johnson got a heftier penalty at $4,945. And while Abram didn’t get docked for his part in the skirmish, the league did slap him with a $15,000 fine for his unnecessary roughness penalty later in the game.
On to the Miami Dolphins today at Empower Field at Mile High.
“They’re aggressive with their hands, but I like that,’’ Patrick said.
His quarterback will again be Drew Lock, who is coming off a rough performance against the Raiders. Lock threw four interceptions and suffered a strained and sore side muscle in the ribs area that put his playing status in slight question during the week, although he made it through practice well enough to start against Miami.
So what does a veteran receiver do when his passer is coming off a tough week: Say something to him or say nothing?
“With Drew you could say a little something but Drew knows already,’’ Patrick said. “He has very high standards for himself. So there’s not much you really need to say. You just let him know you’ve got his back no matter what.
“As a receiver it’s our job to help make the quarterback look good. We just let him know we’ve got his back and everything else he’ll take care of it himself because he’s a very mentally strong guy. He knows what he has to do in order to play his best.”
Patrick said he’s pleased with his statistical production through eight games (he missed the Chargers’ game because of a hamstring pull), but the 3-6 record is disappointing and more wins are needed before he’ll call this a successful season.
Still, Fantasy League players must be pleasantly surprised by what Patrick has accomplished given where he seemed to be lining up on the Broncos’ depth chart on the evening of April 24. To start the night, speed receiver KJ Hamler was taken in the second round, the day after Denver took another receiver, Jerry Jeudy, in the first round.
At that moment, Courtland Sutton was healthy and ready to return for a second season as the Broncos’ No. 1 receiver. Jeudy and Hamler meant Patrick would be fighting it out with good friend DaeSean Hamilton for No. 4 receiver.
“My whole mindset was I’ve never been the No. 1 target so when my number was called I made sure I made plays,’’ Patrick said. “Because if you make a play a day they can’t forget you. That’s basically how I took it. I was prepared to play special teams. I’m very good at that after one year. So I knew I was going to have a role. It was just up to me to continue to work and make sure I got a bigger role throughout the season.”
The Jeudy and Hamler picks may not have led Patrick to break off cartwheels in his living room. Yet, his mature, professional and selfless attitude about the selections and wouldn’t you know it, he has been rewarded with his best-ever season. Sutton never got going because of a shoulder and then season-ending ACL injuries. Hamler was late to start because of a hamstring issue and by the time he got up to his 4.2 speed again, Patrick was already established as a primary receiver.
“When we drafted Jeudy I was excited about that because I felt it was something that we needed,’’ Patrick said. “KJ, you can’t pass up on a guy like that -- 4.2 speed -- I was definitely happy about that. It was something that our offense needed.
“When we drafted more receivers, myself-wise I knew how it was going to be. But it was something that our offense needed. We needed a kick with the speed those guys have. It’s all fun and games, you throw it up.and we can go up and catch it but at some point they’re going to sit on everything and you need that guy who even if they’re back they can still run by them. So I’m happy that we got those picks.’’
Patrick's career stats
Season .... G .... C ....... Y .... Y/C ... TD
2018 ....... 16 ... 23 ... 315 ... 13.7 .... 1
2019 ........ 8 ... 16 ... 218 ... 13.6 .... 0
2020 ........ 8 .... 31 ... 444 ... 14.3 .... 3
Totals .... 32 .... 70 ... 977 ... 14.0 ... 4