Allen Park — Lions coach Jim Caldwell rarely offers personal stories about his players, but he shared one about cornerback Quandre Diggs on Saturday to explain why the rookie has had success adjusting quickly to the NFL.
Growing up, Caldwell explained, Diggs always had people throwing footballs at him, so that "always kind of kept him on his toes."
According to Diggs, the Lions' primary nickel cornerback the past month with Josh Wilson on injured reserve, some of those unsuspecting footballs came from his father.
"My dad, as soon as he got off work," Diggs said, "we had a little drill we would do. … I'll be running from the side of the house and he'll be behind the house and just throwing the football. and I wouldn't know where it was coming. So, that kind of helped me with my catching ability and things like that."
"If I catch it, I catch it, and if I don't, you're going to be hit in the face. It was just one of those things. That kind of rubbed off on me and made football important to me."
Diggs also had neighborhood friends in Angleton, Texas — about 45 miles south of Houston — reminding him of the importance of football.
Even though Diggs lived in "not the nicest part" of town, people often looked out for him because he was the younger brother of NFL cornerback Quentin Jammer. Some of those guys got into trouble, he said, but they'd still throw the football to him in the streets.
"Each and every day I would be outside running routes, doing things to try to imitate the guys I see on TV and things like that," he said. "That definitely helped me, and I'll never forget where I came from just because of that. A lot of those guys that did that and did things like that, they're probably in jail still or something like that so I always give credit to those guys also.
"I could always say the hood had my back all the time."
Diggs, 24, also had plenty of motivation from his brother, who's 36. Jammer was physical cornerback, and when asked why he excels in the run game, Diggs noted that his brother did, too.
"I'm not going to be the soft one in the family," he said.
The 5-foot-9 Diggs also said he wanted to emulate hard-hitting safety Sean Taylor.
And now that he's in the NFL, Diggs is starting to show that everyone's help growing up paid off as he's consistently made plays since earning a bigger role. But, he hasn't had many chances to showcase his hands as his only interception this year was nullified by a Lions penalty. His 6-foot brother, meanwhile had 21 picks in 12 seasons.
"I got the best hands, easily," Diggs said. "I think I have the better football IQ. He was blessed with the size. I was blessed with everything else."