Eagles cornerback Dimitri Patterson originally joined the NFL as a rookie free agent with the Washington Redskins. In his rookie season, 2005, Patterson would bounce back between the Redskins practice squad and the active roster before parting ways with the Redskin the ensuing offseason. Things have changed a lot in Washington since then, and Patterson has carved out a solid niche for himself as an outstanding special teams player and a reliable reserve cornerback, but that doesn't stop Patterson from wondering how things might have been different had he stuck with his original team.
"That's a natural thought," he said. "I think anybody when they leave a place and go to somewhere else, they think, "What if things would have worked out?' I haven't spent much time really thinking about it though, to be honest."
After Washington, Patterson's NFL odyssey continued for two seasons in Kansas City before he eventually landed with the Eagles at the tail end of the 2008 season. Patterson believes the reason he's been able to stick in Philadelphia comes down to two factors - defensive philosophy and opportunity.
"It's all situational," he said. "If people don't see you, they're never going to know what you're capable of doing. And that's in anything, especially in professional sports. The more opportunity you get, then people can become more familiar with what you can do. You're making an impression that this is what I'm about. But if you're not receiving the opportunity, then guess what? No one will ever know what you're about.
"Kansas City was the Herm Edwards cover two umbrella. So therefore it didn't demand a lot. Even if you had a guy that was talented and could play, you're not going to really see that because all he's really doing is jamming and sinking. Then Gregg Williams (was the defensive coordinator) in Washington my rookie year. He had more a hybrid fire zone type deal which was still good and still demanded a significant amount from the corners, but not as much as Jim Johnson's scheme. Here, you have to really show that you can play in all phases - coverage, tackling ... that's what best suited me."
With all eyes on Donovan McNabb returning to play against his former team, Patterson is one of three ex-Redskins on the Eagles roster (former Eagles offensive lineman Artis Hicks is also on the Redskins). Joining Patterson are kicker David Akers, who kicked one game for the Redskins in 1998 before joining the Eagles in 1999, and defensive tackle Antonio Dixon, who was with the Redskins in training camp as a rookie in 2009 and joined the Eagles days after not making the Redskins 53-man roster.
"I'm happier here," Dixon said. "They're more family oriented here. It's more structured and disciplined too. It was nice in Washington though ... but they switched to a 3-4 defense and I prefer the 4-3."
As for Akers, he actually missed his two field goal attempts for the Redskins in that 1998 game, though he did convert both of his extra point opportunities. But things worked out pretty well for the team's longest tenured player. Since joining the Eagles in 1999, Akers has distinguished himself as the best kicker in franchise history, as he holds the team record for field goals (264), points (1,197) and extra points (405).
So for Akers, Patterson, Dixon, Hicks and, yes, McNabb, Sunday will serve as a brief trip down memory lane. But for the Eagles' trio, there won't be any regret.
"This," Dixon said, "is the best fit for me."
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 7:45 p.m., October 2