After being waived by the Ravens and the 49ers in mid-2017, Tim Patrick found his way to the Broncos shortly thereafter, joining the practice squad in late October. This year, Patrick ascended the depth chart during the preseason and made the final 53-man roster. It didn’t take him long to make a big impact: His first catch — in Week 2 against the Raiders — set up Brandon McManus’ game-winning kick with just seconds to spare. Now he’s become a key cog on the Broncos’ offense and remains an important contributor on special teams. We caught up with Patrick to talk about learning how to play special teams, his first NFL touchdown and much more.
Zach Pereles: Earlier in the year, one of the things you focused on was your special teams performance. How do you think you’ve developed in that aspect?
Tim Patrick: “I feel like I’ve developed well and I’ve exceeded expectations. I’m near the top of the team on special teams tackles. I feel like I’m one of the best in the league as far as percentage-wise on my [Pro Football Focus] grade. I feel like I’ve developed pretty well.”
ZP: Was it a difficult learning curve for you?
TP: “I wouldn’t say it was tough, but I had never played there before, so it was something I had to get used to. Once I got used to it, I started developing and getting better week-in, week-out.”
ZP: You had been cut by a couple of teams before landing here with the Broncos. Now that you’re playing a big part on game day, has your mindset changed at all?
TP: “No. The other opportunities I got, I don’t feel like they were truly opportunities to play for their team. So I haven’t changed. I’ve just come in with an ‘attack’ mentality. I just needed the right team to give me a real chance, and the Broncos did.”
ZP:What’s the biggest difference for you between where you were this time last year and where you are now?
TP: “I’m playing. I’m not on the practice squad. Just everything has changed, man. I was just a practice-squad guy who was doing my job in practice. Now this year, I’ve got to step up in different ways, and I’m taking advantage of it.”
ZP: What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned over that year?
TP: “First, to never give up. And second, you can control only what you can control. Never try to control what somebody else controls because at the end of the day, you can’t control anything. You’ve just got to do your part, and I just learned to do my role, what they want out of me plus more.”
ZP: You’ve quickly gone from one of the younger guys in the receiver room to one of the older guys, even though you’re only in your second year as a pro. What’s it been like to experience that change?
TP: “Yeah, it’s been weird because that was the last thing I expected to happen this soon. But it’s also something I wanted to happen. I’m not saying that in a bad way for anybody else, but to be out there and play with people and compete with the young guys we’ve got here is fun. It’s nice to go out there with the mentality to shock the world. Nobody thinks that we can make plays out there, and we’re going out there and making plays. We’re just going to keep on getting better.”
ZP: Do you have a favorite play this season?
TP: “Every play I get the ball, that’s my favorite play.”
ZP: How about your first career touchdown — at Kansas City? Can you take me through that play?
TP: “I knew I was going to get the ball. The man kind of slipped up on the coverage, and he just made it easier. I felt like I was going to score no matter what because the ball is coming to me, but [that] made my first touchdown that much easier.”
ZP: You’re getting more and more opportunities as a receiver as the season winds down. How do you feel you’ve done translating those opportunities into proving you can be a part of the team’s future?
TP: “I think that I’ve done pretty well, but there’s always more work to be done. You can never get complacent. You’ve always got to strive to get better because there’s always another class of people coming in to try to take your spot, and I just want to show them that this is not going to be the finished product. I’m going to keep on getting better and better and better the harder I keep working.”