While growing up, one of the Minnesota Vikings’ youngest players, Stefon Diggs, knew quite a bit about the one of the team’s oldest coaches, Norv Turner.
Growing up in Gathersburg, Md., Stefon Diggs would flip on the television and watch Washington Redskins game. The head coach then was Turner. Later, Diggs would watch San Diego Chargers’ games, and Turner was the head coach there, too.
All these years later, Diggs, a Vikings fifth-round draft pick, is now working in Turner’s system, reminding him of the intrigue he once had.
“I actually knew his son (quarterbacks coach Scott Turner) as well because I knew him in high school. It was just funny how it all worked out,” Diggs said.
“I watched the Chargers for a long time, too, and I always seen him on the sidelines so when I first seen him it was kind eye-opening a little bit, but I was just ready to get to work and looking forward to him being my coach.”
Fortunately for Diggs, the transition is made a bit easier as he has some familiarity with the system, even if the scheme is different. For one of the oldest Vikings, Shaun Hill, this is his first year in a numbers-based offensive system. For Diggs, that part of the transition has been easy.
“I come from a numbers system, something similar to here. I’m not that far off compared to other people who come from different offenses, but we had a numbers system at my school so I’m picking it up from that aspect,” Diggs said. “But just learning different depths and things like that.”
Diggs has immediately noticeable quickness, using that create separation in crowded spaces. He looks like the prototypical slot receiver, but head coach Mike Zimmer isn’t going to pigeonhole Diggs into just that role.
“He looks small, but he’s six feet,” Zimmer said. “He looks smaller compared to some of the other guys. I have the same impression sometimes. He’s bigger than you think he is. And he’s quick off the line of scrimmage. He can get zero to 40 quickly.”
Zimmer also called Diggs a model citizen with “yes, sir” and “no, sir” responses.
But finding a role for him could prove a challenge. The Vikings have their starters, Charles Johnson and Mike Wallace, set. Jarius Wright shapes up to be the top slot guy, and somewhere Codarrelle Patterson should fit in the mix.
Diggs says it doesn’t matter to him if he’s in the slot or outside, and he knows the competition for playing time is stiff.
“Seeing that there’s a lot of good guys as far as talent level, you’re going to get a lot of competition. It’s fair competition,” he said. “Everybody wants the best for each other so it’s only right that everybody competes all around just to make each other better at the end of the day.”
He has certainly impressed Zimmer in his short time as a Viking.
“I think this guy’s got a chance to be really good,” Zimmer said. “He runs great routes. He’s got excellent speed. He catches the ball as well as anybody I’ve seen very, very easily. He’s been a model citizen. That’s important, especially for young guys.”
Ultimately, Turner could find some contributing bit part for Diggs. Speed can’t be taught, and Diggs has a lot of respect for Turner.
“Norv’s a great guy. I love Norv as far as his offense and everything he brings,” he said. “I learn so much from him each and every day. He might say something so little, but it will help your game in the long run as far as depths and paying attention to detail and things like that. As a rookie, those are the things you need to focus on seeing that you’re in a new offense, just to do it his way and convert.”
Diggs said Turner knows what an NFL receiver looks like and Diggs looks the part so far. That “Norv moment” hasn’t come yet, when the excitable Turner turns a blue streak dressing-down Diggs’ way.
“I’m waiting on it,” he said. “I’ll look forward to it. Nothing you can do. He’s a great coach.”
Turner respect started early for rookie Diggs
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