EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Mike Zimmer's record in coin tosses hasn't been as good as the 18-14 mark he's had through two regular seasons.
The Vikings are 15-20 in decisions that open a game or an overtime in regular-season games since Zimmer's hire as head coach in 2014.
Cordarrelle Patterson might not mind that continuing for one more preseason game, at least.
If the Chargers win the coin toss Sunday, they could defer like they did in a regular-season game a year ago, Patterson could line up for a kickoff return and become the first Vikings player to touch the football in a game at U.S. Bank Stadium.
If the Vikings win the toss, it could be the foot of Blair Walsh because of Zimmer's prevalent preference of deferring. He's opted to kick off 14 of the 15 times the decision has been up to him, including to start overtime last season against the Rams because he wanted a stiff wind in the Vikings sails. Minnesota's game at Buffalo was the only time he opted to receive the opening boot.
For the record, Patterson didn't bring it up, but he did smile when asked about the possibility and if he could convince Zimmer to take the ball if he has the option.
"It's always good to get that opening kickoff," Patterson said. "I hope we get it, and I hope I return it for a hundred and something yards."
Patterson was the only player in the NFL to return two kickoffs for touchdowns in 2015, and he led the NFL with a kickoff return average of 31.8 yards.
He wants that and more in 2016 and has worked hard to increase his role in the offense. Patterson looked dynamic and crisp during organized team activity practices. He hauled in a deep pass early during training camp but suffered a shoulder injury that caused him to miss the preseason opener.
Patterson played on offense but did not return kicks last week at Seattle. He caught two passes for 17 yards against the Seahawks and made several more plays in practice this week, smoothly returning to the practice field.
"I missed time that I didn't want to miss, but it's good to be back out here, getting in the groove with my teammates and contributing to the team," Patterson said. "When your number is called, you try to make sure you make the most out of every opportunity because you don't know when the last time is the last time. You've got to make every time like it's your last."
Zimmer said this week that Patterson "has been good with his routes" and supplementing his talent with a focused approach.
"Sometimes when it comes easy when you're young, then you maybe take some of these things for granted," Zimmer said. "I think he has done a much better job of being disciplined, working hard, those kinds of things."
Vikings receivers coach George Stewart the way Patterson has returned after being sidelined is a continuation of the work he put in this offseason.
"That's a testament to his growth as a player in the last three years he's been here," Stewart said. "He obviously knows with missed time, you have to come back and be ready to perform. He stayed in it mentally and did a great job of perfecting his craft. He didn't miss a beat."
Patterson, who scored the final rushing (50 yards) and receiving (8 yards) touchdowns at the Metrodome in a 14-13 win over Detroit on Dec. 29, 2013, is looking forward to helping open U.S. Bank Stadium. He **toured the venue with teammates** this summer, and the Vikings will hold a **closed practice** there Friday, but there's nothing like a game day, even though it is still the preseason.
"We've waited two years on it, so I just can't wait to get out there on Sunday," Patterson said. "I'm very excited. I know everybody else is as excited as me and can't wait to get out there and show the fans what they've been waiting for."