As a team, the Minnesota Vikings will be on the road Sunday against the Washington Redskins. But, for one player, it will mean heading home.
Wide receiver Stefon Diggs is from nearby Gaithersburg, Md., and he’s heading home as a pro for the first time.
As would be expected, friends have come out of the woodwork thinking Diggs is made of money and can hook them up with tickets. He claimed he got 30 ticket requests, but will only honor those for his family – the most important ones for him.
It’s just another game on the schedule, but playing in front of family and friends will be a first that Diggs is looking forward to.
"Yeah, it's going to be exciting - my first time coming home, having a game back home,” Diggs said. “I'm not thinking about too much of a homecoming, but I'm definitely excited to see my mom and just to get back to playing (in) my old town. So I'm just excited."
Diggs came out of nowhere as a rookie after being a healthy scratch for the first three games for the Vikings. In the 13 games he played, he ended up leading the team in receptions and yards.
He has made a big impression in a short period of time and head coach Mike Zimmer has become a fan – even though Diggs plays offense.
"Stefon's done good,” Zimmer said. “He's a good, hard worker. He's been a fun guy to coach. He works real hard, he makes some good catches. He's good with run-after-catch. So, we've been very, very pleased with Stefon and we hope that the future is going to continue to be bright for him."
While his future is up to the fates of the football gods, his past has been strongly linked to former offensive coordinator Norv Turner. Turner saw something in Diggs early on and, once he got in the lineup, he quickly ascended to the No. 1 spot.
As far as the current Vikings go, Turner is gone. But, for players like Diggs, he is not forgotten.
"He definitely helped me a lot as far as he's seen a lot of football in his time in the NFL and I have the utmost respect for him as a coach and as a person,” Diggs said. “I took heed to everything that he said moving forward with my career as a young player. So that definitely played a part in my success."
Diggs is likely going to have to remember everything Turner taught him because he will face one of the stiffest challenges of his career Sunday. Given his name recognition and film respect from opposing defensive coordinators, he tends to draw an opponent’s top cornerback.
On Sunday, that means Josh Norman, a volatile, smack-talking corner who backs it up and is battling the likes of Richard Sherman for the top corner in the league.
More times than not, Norman and Diggs will be up close and personal and Diggs is aware that it will be a long afternoon trying to shake one of the best cover corners in the league.
"He's a very talented individual,” Diggs said. “It's all about preparing. These guys that you go against each and every week, you're going to have to prepare. You have got to watch film on it, you have got to see what he likes to do (and) what he doesn't like to do. It's just all about preparation."
Like the rest of his teammates, Diggs has his focus on starting the second half of the season with a win and end the current three-game slide the Vikings find themselves on.
Being back home for the first time as a pro will be a memory Diggs will carry with him long after his playing career is over, but, for the short-term, all that matters is getting a victory Sunday because each game from here on out takes on added significance.
"Every game is a needed win,” Diggs said. “We needed a win last week and the way we attacked and the way we approached the end of the game is the same way we'll approach it this week - just as far as trying to do everything in our power to get that ‘W.’ Every win is a needed win and all of them won't shake the way you want them to, but we're looking forward to this game and we look forward to coming out the way we want it to come out."