The Vikings didn’t win Sunday, but they might have unleashed a fifth-round steal.
Rookie receiver Stefon Diggs wasn’t active for Minnesota’s first three games. He finally got his chance in a 23-20 loss to Denver at Sports Authority Field and had six catches for 87 yards.
“I felt comfortable as far as being out there,” Diggs said. “I was just trying to do what I can do. I was really excited to be out there.”
The Vikings called upon Diggs after injuries hit the receiving corps. Starter Charles Johnson was out with sore ribs, and No. 3 receiver Jarius Wright was ineffective because of a right hand injury.
Wright barely played and didn’t have a catch. While he said after the game he “felt pretty good,” coach Mike Zimmer said he wasn’t healthy enough to contribute.
Minnesota opened in a two tight-end set, making Cordarrelle Patterson technically the only wide receiver to start. But Patterson, who had one catch for nine yards, ended up not playing much of a role.
Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater primarily went to Mike Wallace (eight catches for 83 yards), Adam Thielen (six catches for 70 yards) and Diggs.
“He’s a guy who knows that he has to be patient,” Bridgewater said of Diggs. “He’s a guy who waited his time, his number was called, and he stepped up for us.”
The one drawback for Diggs was two fumbles, which the Vikings were able to recover.
“He did like I expected him to do,” Zimmer said. “He put the ball on the ground twice, which you can’t do. He continues to learn.
Diggs is well aware he can’t fumble.
“I’m going to get back in the lab and see all the things I can do better,” Diggs said. “When you have the ball in your hand, you’re the most important person in the organization at that moment, so I’ve just got to do a better job.”
After starring at Maryland, Diggs wasn’t drafted last spring until the Vikings took him in the fifth round with the No. 146 overall pick. He showed flashes in the preseason but wasn’t able to get on the field early in the regular season because the Vikings have so much depth at receiver.
But injuries hit the Vikings hard in last week’s victory over San Diego. Not only were Johnson and Wright hurt, so were strong safety Andrew Sendejo and defensive end Justin Trattou, who both sat out against the Broncos. Robert Blanton replaced Sendejo in the lineup.