Allen Park – Coming into the season, the Detroit Lions’ nickelback situation was one of the team’s biggest question marks. In the opener, Quandre Diggs did his best to quell the concern, even if just for a week.
Diggs was dominant covering future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald, allowing one, 10-yard reception, while breaking up three throws and nearly coming up with an interception.
“I thought Quandre had a good game,” defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said. “I think when you look back two years ago, when he was a rookie, he played really well the second half of the year. We kind of expected that last year and he tailed off a little bit. I think this was just more of him getting back to form and playing the way he’s capable of playing.”
After that disappointing sophomore season in 2016, Diggs isn’t about to rest on the laurels of one performance.
“Yeah, for sure, it gives you confidence, but each week is a new week,” Diggs said. “Last week was last week. You just go and trust the game plan this week and make the plays you can make. Don’t try to do nothing out of the ordinary.”
On the near interception, Diggs dove to pluck the ball out of the air after it deflected off the hands of Fitzgerald. But an official review showed that the nose of the ball touched the ground while in Fitzgerald’s hands, negating the turnover and leaving Diggs still searching for the first interception of his young career.
“That’s two that have been called back, but they’re going to come,” Diggs said.
This week, Diggs could draw another stiff test if Odell Beckham (ankle) is medically cleared to play. The Giants’ Pro Bowl receiver moves all over the field, including plenty of snaps from the slot. The feisty 5-foot-9 Diggs is looking forward to the test.
“You always want the best to play,” Diggs said. “You’ve got to relish those challenges. You want to go against the best and he’s one of the best.”
The Lions are hoping, whether Beckham plays or not, Diggs can maintain his career’s current course correction with another quality performance Monday night.
“He’s always been a smart football player and one that we, without question, appreciate because of the fact that he reads things well,” coach Jim Caldwell said. “He’s also very competitive. He takes on challenges. Often times, there are guys that might be a little bit bigger, but he still finds a way to kind of get those things done. Overall, he’s just made really good strides and we hope he’ll continue to do so.”
The Lions are coming into Monday's game as healthy as they could hope. Only defensive end Ziggy Ansah appeared on Sunday's game status report, listed as questionable as he continues to deal with his offseason knee injury.
Ansah was also questionable for the opener against the Cardinals, but played 34 snaps in the contest, just a shade below a normal workload for the former Pro Bowl defensive end.
"All I can tell you is that he is making really good progress," Caldwell said. "As you see him – snap count goes up or whatever that might be – I think you’ll see him come into his own here shortly."