Stefon Diggs entered the 2016 disappointed in his rookie season, despite the promise he showed. He turned that into motivation for his preparation.
By December, the Minnesota Vikings’ second-year receiver was on pace for his first 1,000-yard season and the first the franchise would have experienced since 2009. But, eventually, the production slowed.
In his final four games, he had a combined 97 yards and one game (the season finale) on the inactive list because of a hip injury he had dealt with for several weeks. He finished with 84 catches of 903 yards.
“It was tough, but I was battling that for a while so it wasn’t a surprise to me,” he said. “I wish I could have been out there with my guys, but I was happy to see we ended on a strong note.”
With six games to go, Diggs needed to average less than 43 yards a game to hit the 1,000-yard mark. In the first nine games, he had averaged 71.8 yards per game played, including three games above 100 yards. But he missed two of the final six games to injury and finished with 903 yards.
“I came back better than I was last year and that was point proven,” Diggs said. “I missed three games last year; I missed three games this year. I’m going to be better, long story short.”
Diggs turned 23 years old in November, so he is still learning the best routine for him in the NFL. One lesson he learned last offseason was that he needs to give himself some breaks before hitting the rigors of training camp.
“Last offseason, there were times I was going real, real hard. There were times I was working out at 11 O’clock at night. So this offseason it’s going to be a little bit smarter, work efficient,” he said.
“I was going hard, that’s just how I am. I don’t feel like you can over-train or overdo anything. Just have to have the proper mind, taking time to recover. I was so disappointed in my (rookie) season that I was just like, work, work, work. I don’t feel the same as last year, but I do have a lot left on my plate to prove.”
Diggs said he will take “full advantage” of every opportunity he gets but admitted that the team “had a lot of things go south early” in 2016.
“As far as stuff from me, I’m going to keep working,” he said. “This is just a small step in the right direction as far as where I want to be. I’m not close at all. You’re going to see more of me.”
During the 2016 offseason, the Vikings believed they could move Diggs around more to make it difficult on defenses to key in on him. But Diggs doesn’t seem to care if defenses show him more attention or not; it doesn’t alter his expectations.
“At the end of the day, that doesn’t matter to me. As far as how a team wants to play me, it’s no excuse. I won’t make an excuse,” he said. “With opportunities given, I’m going to make plays. I don’t care what a team does. My job is to win, that’s what it comes down to.”