With all the buzz around Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen’s breakout season, it’s easy to forget that Stefon Diggs continues to perform like an All-Pro receiver and is having perhaps his best season. Diggs has made 53 catches in 12 games — already the second most of his career — and his six TD receptions are a career high and trail only Kyle Rudolph (eight) on the team this season.
Diggs scored on a 20-yard pass from Case Keenum in the Vikings’ 34-7 victory over Cincinnati on Sunday, and he said that the offensive play-calling has really opened up.
“It’s more so our coaches putting us in the best position. No matter how we approach it, we’re just trying to get done what they want,” he said. “They put together a great game plan as far as coming out and start fast, aggressive, get the shots that we can get, and moving the ball down the field.”
Diggs didn’t play in the first game this season against the Packers because of a strained groin, but last year he had perhaps his greatest game as a pro when he faced the Packers at home in Week 2 and had nine receptions for 182 yards and a touchdown.
Even though the Vikings have clinched the NFC North title, Diggs said coach Mike Zimmer is keeping them focused on one game at a time.
“We don’t really operate that way, as far as getting high on things,” he said. “Success comes from hard work. We have high hopes for things and we just have to continue to do what got us here.”
Draft success story
Some questioned the Vikings’ decision to select Diggs in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL draft. He had 792 receiving yards and five scores during his junior season at Maryland before declaring for the draft.
Diggs said he didn’t have a lot of consistency around him during his three seasons with the Terrapins.
“My first year, I had five quarterbacks,” he said. “I think at one time a linebacker was throwing me the ball; probably a little bit of that, maybe.”
Diggs was considered one of the best high school athletes in the country in the Class of 2012. Rivals.com had him ranked as the No. 2 prospect in the nation.
“I had like 35 offers from colleges,” he recalled. “I was leaning towards going to Florida, but at that time all of the teams kind of had a similar record, similar success on the field, so I decided to stay [in Maryland]. I wanted to be close to my family — my little brothers, I wanted to be close to them as well — and representing my state. I wanted to stay home.”
Diggs has two brothers currently playing college football.
Mar’Sean is a redshirt junior defensive back at Alabama-Birmingham. Mar’Sean had 35 tackles, a forced fumbled and an interception this season.
His youngest brother, Trevon, is a sophomore cornerback at Alabama, playing for Nick Saban. Trevon played in 11 games and recorded five tackles but made a bigger impact on special teams with 10 punt returns for 86 yards and two kickoff returns for 74 yards, including a 55-yarder.
He said keeping close to his younger brothers is a huge part of his life.
When it comes to playing with the Vikings, Diggs says the best help he receives generally comes from his teammates.
“My teammates, the guys in my room. Adam Thielen, before that it was Charles Johnson, but even the guys now help me and push me to be better,” he said.
The combination of Diggs and Thielen has been huge for the Vikings in keeping opposing pass defenses honest.
“When you have not only us but a good running game as well, but on the outside me and Thielen are working the guys on the back end,” Diggs said. “We just try to run and get open [and help] each other get open, too.”
The Green Bay Packers are the only team that releases their financial information because they are publicly owned.
In July of this year, they announced that their net income had risen by $24 million from 2016, going from $49 million to $73 million.
The reason for the jump, in part, was that 29 NFL teams split relocation fees paid by the Rams and Chargers for moving to Los Angeles and the Raiders moving to Las Vegas. The other big boost — and this would count for the Vikings, too — was that the NFL’s television deal increased by $21 million for each team.
The Packers said their profits from operations dropped from $75 million to $65 million, with most of that going to player contracts.
• The Packers’ elimination from the playoffs ends an eight-year streak of postseason appearances. That was the second-longest active streak in the NFL, trailing only the Patriots’ nine consecutive years. The other active streaks are the Seahawks with five, the Steelers with four and the Chiefs with two.
• In another hit to the Packers, receiver Davante Adams will not play Saturday against the Vikings in Green Bay after suffering a concussion in last Sunday’s game against the Panthers. Adams leads the Packers with 74 receptions for 885 yards and 10 touchdowns.
• Jamaal Williams has given the Packers a big boost in the running game. Williams, a fourth-round pick, has rushed for 416 yards with four scores this season. With a potentially limited passing game for the Packers after quarterback Aaron Rodgers was placed on injured reserve Tuesday, the Vikings will need to shut Williams down to beat Green Bay.
• If you want an idea of how important Rodgers is to the Packers, the Green Bay Post-Gazette wrote that ticket prices on the secondary market dropped from $145 to $112 when it was announced he was out for the Vikings game. … Packers coach Mike McCarthy declined to say whether Rodgers would have played Saturday if the Packers were still in the playoff hunt. McCarthy added that Rodgers wasn’t happy with the decision. “We all understand and appreciate and respect his competitive spirit,” he said.
• Rochester John Marshall basketball standout Matthew Hurt scored 48 points in an 83-61 victory over Red Wing on Dec. 12 with North Carolina coach Roy Williams in attendance. The Tar Heels offered Hurt a scholarship last year. He is averaging 39 points per game and topped 2,000 for his high school career Tuesday.