Football Betting Lines
Football Betting Lines
Vikings confirm Patterson no longer a starter
Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner confirmed the obvious Thursday when he said Charles Johnson has replaced Patterson as the starter at the ''X'position once commonly known as the split end.
Still, such a statement of demotion was a startling development in a season that began with so much promise for the former first-round draft pick.
''We're going to do what we can to get him some opportunities to play there,'' Turner said, ''but C.J. is playing at a real high level right now.''
That doesn't mean Patterson won't still see meaningful action as a wide receiver over the remaining four games. Coach Mike Zimmer said he's been pleased by the way Patterson has performed in practice this week.
''He's busting his rear end. He's doing everything good, so I'm hopeful that he does some good things in this game,'' Zimmer said.
Patterson has 30 catches for 350 yards and one touchdown in 12 games this year. After rushing for 102 yards in the season opener, he has gained just 11 yards on five carries. As a rookie, Patterson led the NFL in kickoff returning. He had four runbacks of 50-plus yards including two touchdowns that started in his own end zone, but this year his longest is 49 yards.
''Every receiver, they want the ball and they want to play and our opportunities, they get low sometimes,'' Patterson said. ''You've just got to be the better person. Just don't take it too personally.''
Turner said he sees Patterson ''being a big-time player in this offense'' moving forward, but clearly the 6-foot-2, 220-pound speedster who played only one season at Tennessee after transferring from junior college has not progressed as a route runner the way the Vikings have wanted. This is also his fourth offensive system in four years.
Patterson missed most of last week to attend an out-of-town funeral, so Turner and Zimmer didn't feel comfortable giving him much time on the field. They also only ran 48 plays against Carolina and called 24 runs. Zimmer has repeatedly said he's a fan of Patterson and confident he'll blossom into a good player, though.
''Me and coach Zimmer, we got a good chemistry. People, they don't believe it. It's tough love. We don't show it, but we have our little talks,'' Patterson said.
He said he hadn't yet sought the coaches out to specifically discuss his usage.
''Next week, if I feel like my reps ain't where I need it to be or I'm not feeling good about it, I have to sit down and talk with them,'' Patterson said.
Meanwhile, Johnson has 11 receptions for 180 yards and a touchdown over the last three games.
''It's cool to get your name and go out there on the first play, but what does it really mean?'' he said, downplaying his ascension to the starting lineup. ''We all work together. We're all a unit.''
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (5-2) at HOUSTON TEXANS (2-5)
The Texans, losers of five straight, look to get back into the win column with a crucial home matchup with the AFC South rival Colts set for Sunday night.
Indianapolis and Houston are both well-rested coming off of their bye weeks, but both offenses have major injuries to overcome. The Colts lost their top WR Reggie Wayne to a torn ACL last game and the Texans could be without both of their top two ball carriers in RBs Arian Foster (hamstring) and Ben Tate (ribs) who will both be game-time decisions. Houston QB Matt Schaub (ankle) is reportedly healthy enough to play, but the team will stick with Case Keenum who nearly led his team to an upset in Kansas City in his first start in Week 7. These teams have split the past six meetings with the home team winning every time (SU and ATS), but the 2013 season has been quite different for both clubs. Indy is 5-2 including handing the Seahawks and Broncos their only losses of the season. Houston has lost five in a row SU, including its most recent home game by a 38-13 score to 9.5-point underdog St. Louis, and is 1-6 ATS for the season. Over the past two seasons, Indianapolis is 6-0 ATS when playing teams who give up 27 or more points per game, and is also 10-2 ATS after having won two out of its past three games during the same period. The Texans, however, are 11-3 ATS when playing at home against conference opponents in the past three seasons and 10-2 ATS at home after a close loss (3 points or less) since 1992.
Before the Colts' bye week, they pulled off a dramatic 39-33 victory over the Broncos. In that game, QB Andrew Luck spoiled Peyton Mannings return to Indy as Luck threw for 228 yards, three touchdowns and no picks while also rushing for 29 yards and another touchdown. Luck has now thrown for 1,574 yards, 10 touchdowns and just three interceptions this season. Although his accuracy was horrible against Houston last year (49percent completions), he still threw for 377 yards with 4 TD and 0 INT in the two meetings. However, the Colts suffered a major blow in their last game as top WR Reggie Wayne tore his ACL going for a ball that was underthrown. Wayne had 38 receptions for 503 yards and two touchdowns this season, and it is now up to T.Y Hilton (27 rec., 412 yards, 2 TD) to step up as Indianapolis go-to receiver. The Colts have also been a strong running team this season with 129 rushing YPG (9th in NFL) on 4.6 YPC (7th in league) despite the struggles of No. 1 RB Trent Richardson (228 rush yards on 3.0 YPC in five games with Indy). The pressure is also on the Colts defense to continue their solid play this season. They are allowing just 18.7 PPG, which makes them the eighth-best scoring defense in the league, thanks in large part to stopping teams on third down (35percent conversions, 6th-best in NFL). Their secondary has also been strong this season, allowing just 228.4 YPG through the air (13th) with eight interceptions.
The Texans have struggled this season, but they at least picked up their first ATS win before the bye week. Case Keenum is the new starting quarterback, a role solidified after he threw for 271 yards, 1 TD and 0 INT in his NFL debut, a 17-16 defeat at the hands of the Chiefs. RB Arian Foster carried the ball just four times that game before leaving with a hamstring injury. He has rushed for 542 yards on 4.5 YPC) this year, and has dominated Indy in his career with 173 total yards per game and 6 TD in the past six meetings. Both he and No. 2 RB Ben Tate (ribs) will be game-time decisions for this one, and if they are both out, the team will ask a committee of Ray Graham, Dennis Johnson and Deji Karim to run the football. This would put a lot of pressure on Keenum and the air attack. Top WR Andre Johnson had four catches for 89 yards with Keenum throwing against the Chiefs and now has 48 receptions for 584 yards this season. Johnson has not caught a touchdown pass yet though, with TE Garrett Graham (3 TD) and rookie WR DeAndre Hopkins (2 TD) the team's only players with more than one touchdown grab this season. The brightest spot for Houston this year has been their passing defense. The unit has allowed just 145.6 passing YPG, which leads the NFL, but the team has only three interceptions as part of a meager five forced turnovers for the entire year. The Texans lead the NFL in yards per game margin (+113), but poor red-zone efficiency on both sides of the ball (47percent on offense, T7th-worst in NFL; 68percent on defense, 2nd-worst in NFL) has led to their horrible 2-5 record.
Conner Vernon: I'm not like Wes Welker or Eric Decker
How can a single player be compared to Denver Broncos wide receivers Wes Welker and Eric Decker when their skill sets aren't exactly similar? Conner Vernon says it's all about complexion.
"It's funny how, nowadays, you're just comparing race to race here," the Duke wide receiver told USA Today's Mike Garafolo. "Aside from my skin color, I don't see where they got that assumption."
Welker is a 5-foot-9, 185-pound slot receiver. Decker stands 6-3, 218 pounds and is a physical option on the outside. Vernon splits the difference at 6-0,196 pounds. He's not as big as Decker, but doesn't have Welker's quickness.
This isn't a first. The quarterback position has gone through this for years.
Vernon finished his career as the Atlantic Coast Conference's all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards. He'd love to be compared to Welker and Decker because of the numbers he puts up as player. Right now, Vernon just doesn't see it.
2015 Kentucky Derby Odds
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