OXNARD, Calif. — Trevon Diggs took the podium following the first practice of Dallas Cowboys training camp donning two colorful, jeweled necklaces he says represents his bond with his brothers (one being Buffalo Bills receiver Stefon Diggs), and they twinkled and flashed in the Southern California sunlight much like the First-Team All-Pro cornerback did in his historic 2021 season.
It was a breakout campaign for the former second-round pick that saw him grab a league-most 11 interceptions — tying the franchise record set by current Hall of Fame finalist Everson Walls.
Even more impressive is in how Diggs might’ve been able to add to his tally, if he were allowed to play in the Week 18 throttling of the Philadelphia Eagles, but that is then and this is now, and now he’s setting the bar even higher for the 2022 season. When asked what his goal is for an encore performance, Diggs didn’t hesitate in his response.
He wants more. Always more.
“To just be higher than last year,” he said. “To beat my 11 and just keep going up. Just beating that, really.”
In addition to his 11 interceptions, falling just shy of the all-time record (14) set by Dick “Night Train” Lane in the 1950s, Diggs delivered a league-most 21 pass deflections and had two pick-sixes as well, to go along with 52 combined tackles (43 solo). But in having studied his film religiously, and without a contract clause that forces him to do it, he still feels he left some meat on the proverbial bone last season, hoping to scrape more off of it this time around — beginning with a critical Week 1 matchup against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (now infused with Julio Jones).
“Most definitely [I can be better than a year ago],” said Diggs. “I feel like I’ve grown up a lot. I know a lot of football. I’ve seen a lot of football now.
“So, it’s kind of natural to me, and I do kind of feel a lot better last year.”
What could potentially help Diggs reach his new goals is the emergence of fellow former second-round pick Kelvin Joseph, who had a tumultuous offseason that is still being looked into by the NFL for possible discipline, but Joseph is at camp in Oxnard and understands the assignment: he needs to quickly show the Cowboys he’s capable of being a dominant cornerback opposite Diggs.
If that happens, it’ll be one hell of a one-two punch in the Cowboys cornerback room, along with some impact plays provided by Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis. And, for his part, Diggs feels Joseph is ready to build upon what was a solid debut as a rookie.
“For sure,” he said of Joseph’s ability to level up in 2022. “He’s strong. Taking things to the next step. I’m excited to see him.
“He’s a hard worker. I love how he come out here and work and just how he is off the field with me asking questions. Always curious, so I’m excited to see him, see him grow up, and see him just where his journey goes. I’m excited for him.
“A lot of things in store for him.”
And speaking of Brown, the veteran delivered the first highlight of camp when he registered a pick-six against two-time Pro Bowl quarterback Dak Prescott in the first practice, something Diggs views as the secondary setting the tone early on for what’s to come.
“That’s what we’re trying to do,” he said. “We’re trying to make a statement across the league. Just our unit. We got a great group of guys, but I feel like we’re kind of underrated.
“But I know how we work. I know how we perform. I know how we practice. I know my guys. I admire them. I know what he can do. It’s just all on us. It’s to put it on tape and just to show us.
“We’re just trying to hold ourselves to a very, very high standard so we can out there on Sundays and perform… That’s just the standard. We’ve got to top [what we did last season]. Just keep going and that’s our standard now.
“So, we got to perform at that level.”
Twinkle twinkle, not-so-little star.