After AWOL accusation, Dimitri Patterson gets another chance


Before Ray Rice and Roger Goodell took over not just the football news cycle but the entire sports section, one of the strangest stories of the NFL offseason was the one involving nine-year veteran cornerback Dimitri Patterson.

Undrafted out of Tuskegee University, Patterson latched on as a rookie free agent with Washington in 2005, and has since played for the Chiefs, Eagles, Browns and Dolphins. Though he has never been a full-time starter in the league, he has been a playmaker when given the opportunity: In just six appearances with Miami last season, Patterson intercepted four passes and made one sack.

This spring Patterson signed with the Jets, but before he had a real chance to compete for a starting job with the DB-starved franchise, things fell apart.

During training camp, the Jets accused Patterson of going AWOL after he reportedly disappeared for about two days. The saga began on a Friday evening in August when the Jets had a preseason game against the Giants and Patterson did not show up. The team reportedly tried frantically to reach him throughout the night, and it wasn’t until the next day that Patterson’s agent informed the Jets that the player was OK.

Patterson claims he did not leave the team without permission, and strongly denied reports that his absence was an act of protest against his place on the depth chart. Patterson met with Jets coach Rex Ryan two days after the game. He was suspended and eventually cut.

“There’s no need for concern,” Patterson was quoted by USA Today Sports following the incident. “The reports about me going AWOL are totally false. I have my reason for missing those days. I’m not going to go into specifics, but I’ve discussed those reasons with the people I need to discuss them with. But as far as going AWOL, no, that’s totally false.”

Um, OK.

Whatever the case, Patterson found himself without a team as he watched Week 1 of the NFL regular season go by. That could soon change, however, because Patterson was brought in by the Detroit Lions for a workout on Wednesday.

The Lions recently lost cornerback Bill Bentley for the season due to a torn ACL, leaving them with only four healthy corners on the roster: Rashean Mathis, Darius Slay, Cassius Vaughn and rookie Nevin Lawson. For a team that finished 23rd in the league in passing yards allowed last season and gave up 14 pass plays of 40-plus yards (tied for fifth-most in the league), that’s really bad news.

But Patterson has some big-name competition for what looks like an open spot on the Lions’ roster. Last week, Detroit worked out future Hall of Fame corner Champ Bailey.

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