Last week the Minnesota Vikings’ passing game seemed to get back on track as quarterback Teddy Bridgewater completed 25 for 36 passes for 335 yards and a touchdown. But his favorite receiver, rookie Stefon Diggs, was the only one who seemed to have a drop in production. He was targeted seven times but only recorded two catches for 12 yards.
That lack of production is not entirely his fault, however, as Arizona’s Pro Bowl cornerback, Patrick Peterson, shadowed Diggs throughout the course of the game. Peterson is considered one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL and gets tasked with shadowing and shutting down opponents’ No. 1 receivers week in and week out.
That was probably the biggest challenge the young receiver has had to face so far in his career and you could tell when watching the tape that Diggs was doing everything he could on every play to get open.
“Well, particularly this last game, (Arizona) put a really good player on him and contained him pretty well,” offensive coordinator Norv Turner said when asked if opposing defenses have been giving Diggs more attention lately.
Head coach Mike Zimmer was asked about the challenge Diggs faced with Peterson but said Diggs isn’t getting too much more attention from defenses when compared to earlier in the season.
“Not really. Sometimes coverages get dictated,” Zimmer said. “Sometimes it’s two guys and sometimes it’s based on things the opponents do, too. Their favorite coverage might be rolled to the X or cloud to the X or something like that so the guy may get fewer balls. It just depends on the coverage that week.”
When Diggs was asked what it was like to go up against Peterson last week, he didn’t want to talk about it, as he just wants to focus on the Chicago Bears. But the Bears have a talented cornerback of their own in Kyle Fuller, who has also been known to shadow the No. 1 receiver of opposing offenses.
After Peterson was able to stifle Diggs, it is reasonable to assume that the Bears could try to do the same thing with Fuller, especially since Diggs hurt the Bears late in their first meeting with a 40-yard touchdown.
Diggs would be more than willing to accept the challenge of having Fuller shadow him all game. In fact, it almost sounds as though that is what he is hoping for.
“As far as dealing with being shadowed, I love that,” Diggs said. “If I’m looked at as someone who needs to be shadowed then I definitely appreciate it and I’m always up for a challenge. And I want to dominate at what I’m doing, so always got to win no matter what and do what I can.”
Not only is Diggs hoping to get the chance to go up against Fuller throughout the game for the challenge of it, but also because of the history he shares with Fuller. The two are both natives of Maryland and even played each other in football once.
Diggs also went to school with Fuller’s brother and saw the Bears cornerback multiple times when he would take college visits to Virginia Tech and Fuller was there as a freshman.
“You like playing against guys you know, especially with somebody you know really well,” the Vikings rookie said. “You want to win all the time so it’s always good to have the challenge and back and forth with a guy you know. I always want to win all the time, so it’s just the competitive nature in me.”
It is clear that Diggs is a fiery player since he first took the field in training camp and that can sometimes lead to some trash talking out on the field. It’s also normal for trash talking to occur between friends, especially when one beats the other, but Diggs is not expecting too much of that from Fuller.
“Actually, Kyle doesn’t talk too much trash,” Diggs said. “He’s more like a guy who will try to get the job done and really just do what he can to dominate. You try to stir the pot a little bit, but he ain’t that kind of player. He’s just a ball-out kind of guy.”
As Diggs continues to improve and find ways to be productive in the Vikings offense, teams will start to key in more on him, just like the Cardinals did last Thursday. It is not yet clear if the Bears will use Fuller to shadow Diggs, but what is clear is he will be ready for the challenge if it presents itself.