One of the biggest surprises as far as player personnel during the Minnesota Vikings first two games is Stefon Diggs. Throughout the preseason he showed that he is an explosive player that has the ability to create a big play whenever he has the ball in his hands, both as a receiver and as a return man. But two games into the regular season he has yet to dress.
The Vikings already have solid depth at wide receiver and have Cordarrelle Patterson and Marcus Sherels as their returners, two players who have proven themselves in the NFL. All of that means that Diggs’ opportunities are limited at this point.
Still, he is trying not to get down about it and is doing his best to keep a positive outlook on the whole situation.
“Not frustrating at all,” Diggs said. “I mean, I’m just in a position to where I can continue to keep getting better and continue to try to help my team any way I can.”
The Vikings coaching staff understands that Diggs can be a valuable weapon for them on the football field so they are working at getting him comfortable in different rolls than he might normally play, just to see if they can get him on the field in one way or another.
“He works as a gunner; he’s been taught to play on a kickoff team,” Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said. “He could actually be a pretty good gunner if given the time and experience, and he’ll get there. He’s still working as a kickoff and punt returner, so he’s still working hard.
The gunners on a punt coverage unit may not be a position that people normally think of when they think of skill positions, but Priefer believes it is one. He said that a good gunner needs to have speed, quickness and a mentality that they are going to win no matter how many players the opponent puts in front of them. They also have to want to play that position and be a good tackler.
This is the first time that Diggs has ever played gunner before, but he believes it is going well so far. Tackling is probably the biggest change for him. Since he was a wide receiver in college, he did not have to focus on tackling much, but he isn’t worried about it, and neither is Priefer since all special teams players work on tackling in training camp, including the offensive players.
“I’ve had experience tackling,” Diggs said. “I’ve tackled in high school before and stuff like that. So I mean it’s not like I’m opposed to tackling. I’m an aggressive receiver, so I’m going to get after it.”
Diggs’ aggressive nature is one of the things that could make him a very good gunner one day for the Vikings. He hates to lose, and showed that in training camp. He would get in arguments with his own teammates after certain plays, either getting mad at something they did or talking about how he beat them.
That competitive nature is something Priefer is looking to get his hands on, but it is not up to him whether or not there is a spot on the field for Diggs.
“That’s not up to me,” Priefer said. “If Stefon dressed and Sherels was back there, we might put two deep. We could do some different things on kickoff return. It would be fun for me.”