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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Raw talent, refined skill, size, football IQ and hard work. Mix the right amount of each of those together, and you’ll cook up an NFL player on an active roster.
When former Utah wide receiver Tim Patrick was signed to the Broncos practice squad last season, it was clear he had some of those ingredients, but not all. At 6-foot-5 with impressive footspeed for his size, it certainly wasn’t surprising that Patrick was getting an NFL shot, but there was a noticeable difference between him and the guys who were playing on Sundays.
He had the recipe, but the elements were still raw, so to speak.
When Patrick returned to the field for 2018 OTAs, though, it appeared as if he had done a little cooking in the offseason. Suddenly, the ingredients were coming together. As training camp approached, you saw the second-year receiver appearing on 53-man roster predictions. He was getting noticed.
In camp, Patrick only took things up a notch, showing up consistently as a favorite target of the reserve quarterbacks and making plays every time he got a chance with the first team. In one practice against the Chicago Bears, Courtland Sutton went down during the first-team offense’s two-minute drill. In his place, the former Utah star filled in seamlessly, hauling in two straight passes from Case Keenum to put the team position to kick the “game-winning” field goal.
“He’s doing the same amazing things he did in college,” said Utah teammate Garett Bolles.
“You saw [WR] Tim [Patrick] making those plays today right?” Added Emmanuel Sanders after that joint practice with the Bears. “I told him today, ‘Man, you keep it up.’ Guys just can’t match his intensity. Our room is going to be deep full of playmakers, and that’s how you want it. You never know. I’ve been a part of teams, Super Bowl teams that have dealt through injuries. I’ve been a part of teams where I broke my foot and guys had to step in, and the winning kept going because guys are making plays. Our receiver room is definitely hot right now.”
So what changed from last year to this year? How did Patrick go from being a guy to being a player?
“My mindset. I think the biggest thing now is the mental part of the game,” Patrick explained. “Talking to Demaryius and Emmanuel, DT tells me about meditating and stuff; I started meditating, basically just getting better in my inner self. If you believe nobody can guard you, nobody will guard you. That’s how I come out here every day, believing nobody can stop me out here. Don’t stress over the little things. Always think positively. Let the negative things go in one ear and out the other. I think that’s one of the biggest things, my mentality coming into it, not really the physical and skill [stuff].”
Anyone can talk about having that mindset, but it’s evident that when No. 81 steps on the field, he embodies it. He carries himself as confidently as just about anyone in the room not named Emmanuel Sanders. Whether it be on special teams—where his size and speed will be needed—or on offense, Patrick is playing with an aggressiveness that clearly sets him apart from the other bubble receivers attempting to make the roster.
So, has Chef Patrick finally mixed his ingredients together well enough to avoid getting chopped?
“Oh, absolutely,” concluded Bolles. “I know he’s going to make the team. I’m not too worried. If he doesn’t make the team, then the NFL ain’t true.”