FRISCO, TX — Trevon Diggs is easily one of the best cornerbacks in the entire NFL, and already one of the best in the history of the Dallas Cowboys, which is to say his presence is definitely missed on the field — the team having lost the First-Team All-Pro cornerback to a torn ACL ahead of the Week 3 matchup with the Arizona Cardinals.
Diggs underwent surgery last week, and is in good spirits following the procedure. He was seen on Wednesday making his way through the locker room on crutches, mixing it up with his teammates before speaking for the first time since suffering the injury.
When asked about his prognosis, he flashed a smile before having a little fun with the question.
"Hopefully, I can play [this] week," he said, jokingly.
He went on to explain how he's adjusted to being sidelined.
"At first, it was tough, but I'm used to it now, just everyday doing the same things — getting my routine down and getting structure and discipline to focus on what's important," said Diggs.
In his absence, he's seen former fifth-round pick DaRon Bland moved from nickel corner to the outside, and not only has Bland not taken a step back — he's taken several forwards.
Bland has now set a franchise record for most pick-sixes in a single season, after intercepting a target from Matthew Stafford aimed at former Super Bowl MVP Cooper Kupp and turning it into six points. For his part, Bland humbly noted he’s simply “doing my job”, and Diggs doesn't disagree.
The latter also isn't shocked by what he's seeing.
"It's amazing to see what he's capable of," said Diggs of Bland. "I've been watching him since he came in and he's always been a heck of a player. I'm just excited to see him display it. He's playing like one of the best corners right now. I'm excited for him, and truly happy for him."
The same applies to Jourdan Lewis, who helped Bland and Stephon Gilmore delete Kupp, Puka Nacua and Tutu Atwell only a few days ago. And, for Diggs, it's what Lewis has meant to his recovery that helps deepen their relationship.
Lewis suffered a shattered foot that ended his 2022 season last October, and was very transparent this past summer on his mental health struggles during that ordeal. Having learned from what he went through, he's doing his best to keep Diggs from falling into the same dark place; and it's worked.
"He was one of the first people who told me to take things day-by-day, step-by-step," said Diggs. "He had a [major injury as well] that took him away from the guys, and that can be tough. He told me, 'Hit us up. Stay close, because you're gonna need it.'
"He gave me that advice and I'm using it. … [I've just stayed] in communication with them, talking to them before the games. It's about us staying together and staying close — helping them out as much as I can. … Everything happens for a reason.
"You've just gotta roll with the punches. It's all in God's plan. I just have to get healthy and come back stronger, and get ready for next year."
It's a brotherly embrace that is shared by players and coaches alike in Dallas.
"It's been good," Diggs added. "You need that support, especially with an injury like this. You need your brothers there for you everyday, because you get really lonely. My guys have been doing a great job of just making sure I'm alright."
The 25-year-old has been using this time productively as well, and not simply in the realm of going through the processes needed to ensure he's back at top form, physically, for the 2024 season, but also mentally — finding new ways to sharpen his already inhuman football IQ for Year 5.
"I just watch football all day, literally," said Diggs. "I never got the chance to really sit down and watch other teams. I've been taking my time doing that and reading a couple books, and trying to find a couple new hobbies. Just taking everything day-by-day.
"I've learned a lot [by watching other teams]. I'm still learning. Seeing the different pieces and looking at it from an outside lens is just different. You've got a different view of the game."
That can only spell more trouble for opposing offenses when Diggs returns to the field but, until then, he's doing what he can to help the chances of success of his fellow cornerbacks, and sometimes that means making the trip with them as he did against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Don't plan on seeing him on the sideline in Philadelphia, however, as the temperature may not agree with a knee that was surgically repaired only a few days ago. That said, he's using his previous successes at Lincoln Financial Field to help in the meeting room — particularly as it relates to the Cowboys' need of slowing down wide receiver A.J. Brown.
It's a challenge that would have gone to Diggs, but now falls on Bland and Co. this Sunday.
"You just have to play your game," said Diggs. "He's a really good player. Be patient with him, physical with him and you've got to bring your A-game. We've got guys that are physical and technically sound, so I think we'll be alright."
His body can't contribute to a potential win in Philadelphia, and every game thereafter, but his mind certainly can, and his heart remains fully invested in the outcome of this season.
Because that's what real leadership looks like.