Rookie Stefon Diggs had a memorable training camp, winning the unofficial Mr. Mankato award, and he made some big plays during the preseason. But he was a healthy scratch the first two weeks of the season because the Vikings have had more versatile options available for special teams.
That doesn’t mean, by any means, that the Vikings have soured on him.
“We like him a lot as a player. It’s just that we can have 46 [active players] on game day,” coach Mike Zimmer said. “Some guys are, not more valuable, but we use them more on special teams. He’ll get an opportunity to play this year, I would anticipate. And I think he’ll do good when he does.”
Being a healthy scratch is a new experience for Diggs, who started as a true freshman at Maryland after signing there as one of the top wide receiver recruits in the country. But he remains upbeat despite the inactivity.
“You’ve just got to understand your role and how you can impact this team moving forward,” Diggs said. “Each day I come in with a positive attitude trying to get better. Whether I’m playing right now or not, I still have an opportunity to get better in practice. It’s like sharpening my blade.”
Diggs, a fifth-round draft pick, continues to get practice reps as a kickoff and punt returner behind top returners Cordarrelle Patterson and Marcus Sherels, respectively. Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer is also prepping him to defend on kickoff returns and be a gunner on punt coverage.
“He’s still working hard. I know he’s a little frustrated and I think I would be, too, if I was in his shoes because he is such a competitor,” Priefer said.
Diggs is freshening up on his tackling skills. He played cornerback in high school, too, but he did not play on either of the coverage teams in college.
“Nah, I didn’t do that,” the 21-year-old said. “I’ve been working at it and continuing to get better by watching the guys in front of me. I think I feel comfortable at it now since I have been working on it. I’m going to continue to watch people like Marcus Sherels who do great on special teams.”