WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

Notes, Quotes

The Sports Xchange

September 05, 2018 at 1:08 am.

–Quandre Diggs was at home relaxing, watching college football over cuts weekend when he got the phone call he’d long been waiting for. A three-year extension that was weeks in the works was done, and he was going to be a Lion until at least 2021.

“At the end of the day, I’m going into my fourth year, I beat the odds, man,” Diggs said. “Sixth-round pick, pick 200, I beat the odds from what I was supposed to be.”

Diggs has come a long way since draftniks labeled him an undersized cornerback who was too slow to play in the league. He was a part-time starter as a rookie, missed part of the 2016 season with a torn pectoral muscle, then took over as a starting safety late last year for an injured Tavon Wilson.

In five starts at the safety position, Diggs did enough to convince the Lions he was part of their long-term future. He had three interceptions and forced a fumble in that game, and his versatility was a fit with first-year head coach Matt Patricia’s defense.

“He was another guy who’s obviously a critical part of our team here defensively, a guy that has worked extremely hard since he walked in the door,” Patricia said. “Someone since I got here who’s really kind of embraced everything that we’ve been doing and tried to take a big leadership role for us from that standpoint. So real happy for him and his family and we’re excited to have him around.”

–The Lions went the unusual route of keeping six wide receivers and four tight ends on their 53-man roster. Patricia said that abundance of pass catchers suits a league that features so many sub offensive packages, and several of the Lions’ skill and big-skill players are key contributors on special teams.

“Some guys that can help you like (Brandon) Powell or Bradley Marquez, guys like that can help in those situations, have another value, more so than just offensively, so they add to their worth as far as being on the roster where they can be an impactful player in the third phase of the game, which is critically important,” Patricia said. “Those guys that will be out there in those core situations are the ones that you really try to hold onto when you can.”

–Defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni said top defensive end Ziggy Ansah has shown no lingering effects from the hamstring injury that delayed his start to camp. The Lions had just two sacks in the preseason, tied for fewest in the league, and are counting on Ansah to provide much of their pass rush this fall.

“I’m anxious to be with him and to watch the progress and see how it develops,” Pasqualoni said.

–The Lions made two trades in recent weeks, sending a conditional seventh-round pick to the San Francisco 49ers for linebacker Eli Harold, and receiving the same compensation back from the Carolina Panthers for tackle Corey Robinson.
TEAM MVP

–Quarterback Matthew Stafford: Stafford is the glue of this team. He’s 30 years old, entering his 10th NFL season and the biggest reason to believe the Lions can be playoff contenders this fall. The Lions aren’t very good on defense, so they’ll have to outscore teams to win. And while the running game should be better, Stafford is the one player who can be a legitimate difference maker. He threw for 4,446 yards and 29 touchdowns in 2017 and should be in the same neighborhood this season.
TEAM ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

–Running back Kerryon Johnson: Frank Ragnow was the Lions’ first-round pick and he looks like he’ll be an anchor for a long time to come on the offensive line, but Johnson is the player who’ll have the most visible impact on the offense this fall. A second-round pick out of Auburn, Johnson probably will open the season in a time share with LeGarrette Blount and see his role expand as the season goes on. He catches the ball well out of the backfield, is shifty as a runner and is a willing blocker who could transform into an all-purpose back.