hell's trainer
Photo courtesy of Vikings.com

Cordarrelle Patterson is, at the very least, committed to his offseason conditioning. For the second year in a row, the Vikings kick returner (and wide receiver, technically) is working out in California with trainer Frank Matrisciano, the man “Men’s Health” magazine once called “Hell’s Trainer.”

The Star Tribune’s Matt Vensel wrote about Patterson’s offseason workouts with Mastrisciano last year. Mastrisciano is an interesting figure. For his considerable fame in the fitness world, he doesn’t own a gym, preferring instead to conduct his workouts in the great outdoors—namely, the San Francisco sand. He doesn’t have a website, and often wears a hood and mask to conceal his identity. But he has trained everyone from boxers to SWAT teams to NBA stars Blake Griffin and Zach Randolph, and his students swear by the results.

“The first time I got there, it was the hardest thing I ever went through—not in life, but working out-wise,” Patterson told Vensel in 2015. “It was hard mentally. You’ve got to set your mind aside, because you’re going there to the good weather and hills.”

For Vikings fans, this news is likely to elicit mixed emotions. On one hand, it’s encouraging to see any player commit to his offseason conditioning, especially one who has had his drive questioned by Vikings coaches in the past. On the other, the physical part of the game has never been the problem for Patterson. He’s an athletic freak, which is why the Vikings traded 4 draft picks for the chance to draft him. It’s the mental side—the route running, the playbook, and other nuances of Norv Turner’s offense—that have kept him off the field.

After a promising rookie season in which he scored nine total touchdowns, Patterson saw a decline in every significant offensive statistical category in 2014. In 2015, his offensive production went from frustrating to virtually nonexistent; two receptions and two rushing attempts for 25 combined yards. Total. He remains a dangerous kick returner, but it’s hard not to be disappointed that the Vikings are getting essentially nothing out of him on offense. They certainly didn’t trade up into the first round of the draft to get him just so he could return kicks.

Cordarrelle Patterson Again Working out With "Hell's Trainer"

It’s of course possible to focus on improving both the physical and mental parts of your game at the same time, and for all we know, Patterson is doing just that. But it’s obvious the Vikings coaching staff is past the point of frustration with Cordarrelle Patterson, and it’s going to take a complete rededication to refining his offensive skills to get him back on the field. Until then, he’s just a kick returner.