WR Diggs is Vikings’ big-play weapon

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - Pro Football -

in 2015 and he did it again against the Saints, catch­ing seven passes for 93 yards and two touch­downs.

“Ev­ery play he wants to do some­thing amaz­ing,” said Vikings cor­ner­back Xavier Rhodes. “You can see that in him. He wants to be one of the great­est.” Sound fa­mil­iar? The Steelers say the same thing about their All-Pro re­ceiver, An­to­nio Brown, who showed last week in Cleve­land he might just be bet­ter than ever. For­mer Steelers re­ceiver Mike Wal­lace, who was with the Vikings when Diggs was a rookie, said Diggs re­minded him of Brown.

“AB’s in a class of his own,” said new Steelers cor­ner­back Joe Haden. “But he’s [good].”

Haden played against Brown on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions when he was with the Cleve­land Browns. But he has never faced Diggs. But he watched his younger brother, Jor­dan, play against Diggs when both were in high school in Mary­land.

The Vikings wanted to get more ex­plo­sion plays down­field this year, and they are off to a good start. They had 470 yards of­fense against the Saints, their most since they had 558 against At­lanta on Sept. 28, 2014.

If it is to con­tinue, Diggs will be a big rea­son. He had 903 re­ceiv­ing yards last sea­son while start­ing only 11 games be­cause of in­jury.

“He’s real shifty,” said cor­ner­back Ar­tie Burns. “He’s not real fast, but he’s fast and he’s real ath­letic. They try to get ball to him when­ever they can. So we def­i­nitely got to make sure to keep our eyes on him be­cause he’s def­i­nitely the im­pact player of the game.”

Burns pre­pares for such as­sign­ments against shifty re­ceivers by cov­er­ing Brown in prac­tice when­ever he can. He said the Vikings will line up Diggs ev­ery­where in an at­tempt to get mis­matches and get the ball to him.

“It’s the fact that as many tar­gets they get, ev­ery rep you have to be on your game,” Burns said. “You never know what rep will be the gamechang­ing rep.”

The Steelers al­lowed four pass plays of 20 yards or longer against the Browns, who made sev­eral at­tempts to at­tack down­field with rookie quar­ter­back DeShone Kizer. Only six teams al­lowed more 20-plus pass plays in Week 1.

This will be a tougher test against the Vikings, and not just be­cause of Diggs. Quar­ter­back Sam Brad­ford, who passed for 345 yards and three touch­downs against the Saints, had 10 com­ple­tions of 20 yards or longer in that game – most in the league in Week 1.

After his se­cond touch­down, in which he leaped over cor­ner­back De’Vante Har­ris and had to tap both feet in bounds, Diggs got up and cel­e­brated by punt­ing the ball in the stands — or, at least, try­ing. He shanked the ball off the in­side of his foot to­ward the goal­post.

“It was ter­ri­ble,” tight end Kyle Ru­dolph told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “I told him when he gets fined by the NFL for kick­ing into the stands, he should ap­peal it be­cause it didn’t make it to the stands.”

It might be the only thing Diggs can’t do.

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