New Jets cornerback Dimitri Patterson describes his career so far not bitterly but in the measured voice of a veteran who's seen it all.
"The first six years of my career I was extremely healthy but given no opportunity," Patterson told me tonight. "Now I'm starting to get opportunities and having some nagging stuff."
Such is often life for undrafted free agents in the NFL. Patterson, who turns 31 in June, has made stops with Washington, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Cleveland and Miami, staying at none for more than two seasons.
Yet belying that "journeyman" itinerary, Patterson also is coming off of what he called "the best start in my career" with Miami. I asked him to detail a little bit of that time with the Dolphins.
"There was some mixed emotion last year," he said. "I received an opportunity to compete last year for the first time in my career. I was excited about that, and I was off to an extremely good start.
"Unfortunately, I had the groin, early in the summer, actually."
Dimitri Patterson fought through the injury to play in six games, starting four for the 'Fins. He had the second two-INT game of his career, in the opener at Cleveland (one of the picks is shown above), and finished with four picks in that sixpack of appearances.
"I was happy with what I was able to put on tape, even though it wasn't in an ideal fashion," he said. "But at the end of the day, I was able to show, when I was on tape, that I can play at a high level, I can handle the top receivers. All in all, I made the most of it."
And the video told Jets general manager John Idzik, head coach Rex Ryan and DC Dennis Thurman what they needed to know. Patterson doesn't have the big name that many fans wanted to see climbing on board after Antonio Cromartie was released and headed to Arizona. But he has the maturity and the quiet confidence that will be required, whatever his role in our secondary turns out to be.
"Can I start with the Jets?" he mused. "It's an opportunity, yes. Nothing's guaranteed in this league. But there's an opportunity there, so I'm excited about that in itself. Coming in as an undrafted free agent, those opportunities don't happen more times than not. That's just the reality of this business.
"But I've been with a number of teams and I can say that every place I've been, I've held my own, I've displayed my talents. I'm excited about where I'm at right now, I have a lot left in my tank physically, and I'm ready to show that."
Patterson is the kind of player fans can root for as he begins to attack his newest opportunity, this one in green and white.