Lions' Diggs prepared for battle at nickel back

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Allen Park — Lions rookie defensive back Quandre Diggs has spent much of his life fighting the odds and working against perceptions.

Diggs, a sixth-round pick (200th overall), is 5-foot-9 and 196 pounds, and by virtue of his size, constantly fights bigger receivers to gain position.

A four-year starter at Texas, Diggs has the work ethic to compete for a spot on the roster. He'll likely battle Nevin Lawson, Bill Bentley and others at nickel back, but also is being trained to cover the outside.

"I'm still getting used to it; we have a lot of guys out there getting after it and trying to learn a different language," Diggs said. "It's a lot of stuff we were able to play in college, with just different terminology."

Diggs is the younger brother of Quentin Jammer, a first-round pick of the Chargers in 2002 who played 12 seasons in the NFL. Growing up around Jammer in a tough area of Texas helped make Diggs tougher and prepared him for football.

"We got after each other," he said. "Playing football, there were going to be a couple fights out there. You definitely couldn't be soft."

Still, Diggs toes the line between being tough and dirty. It's a toughness Lions coach Jim Caldwell noticed almost immediately.

"What you see with him is what you get — pretty intense guy," Caldwell said. "Always seems like he's got something to prove. Tough, hard-nosed — and that does indeed resonate with his personality and everything that he does. He's attentive, just one of those guys that's going to give you everything he's got."

That's the type of profile for a rookie looking to get playing time, especially with Rashean Mathis and Darius Slay manning the outside cornerback positions.

Before rookie camp, Diggs said he wasn't nervous and didn't need a pep talk from Jammer before he tried to make an impression.

With four years at Texas, he got all the preparation he needed.

"We don't just sit there and talk about football," he said. "He and I have a typical brother relationship where we call and crack jokes with each other and play around. He just told me I have my feet in the door now so I have to go out and be myself. I'll take his advice and we'll feed off each other."