FRISCO, Texas – Two and a half weeks into training camp, it's clear why the Cowboys drafted Trevon Diggs in the second round.
In recent days, the rookie cornerback has been among the most productive defensive players inside Ford Center at The Star. Short-term injuries to Jourdan Lewis (ankle) and Chidobe Awuzie (knee) have meant more reps against the Cowboys' talented receivers.
Diggs has responded, and his confidence seems to be growing as the Sept. 13 season opener at the Rams draws closer.
"The NFL is a lot different from college. I'm just trying to get adjusted and just staying focused," he said. "I feel like by me doing that each day and every week, you're always getting better. Just trying to keep my head down and keep working and stay focused to reach that main goal."
Diggs and the Cowboys' rookie class didn't get to build toward their first professional camp. The nation's COVID-19 crisis canceled organized team activities normally scheduled for late May and early June.
You might say the first week of camp in mid-August qualified as Diggs' rookie minicamp against veteran starters -- specifically, 1,000-yard receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. The speed of practice probably has been Diggs' biggest adjustment.
Through it all, the coaching staff has liked his approach.
"We're liking the effort and the attitude that he's bringing forth and the playmaking ability," defensive backs coach Maurice Linguist said. "This game is all about improvement. It's all about development. You're going to have your ups and downs. You're going to take lumps. It's just can we consistently take steps in the right direction to continually try to be the best player we can be.
"We're excited about where he is right now. We just know we've got a lot of work ahead of us."
At 6-foot-2, Diggs has the frame to match up against taller receivers and close quickly on passes. In the past week he has batted down multiple passes after it appeared the quarterback had a window for a completion.
Diggs gets some extra advice every day after practice. He talks to his brother Stefon, the Buffalo Bills' star receiver, about plays he didn't make that day and tips for covering NFL wideouts.
A receiver's perspective helps. Diggs has a little himself. He played receiver as a freshman at Alabama before switching to cornerback full time. That experience shaped his ball skills on defense.
"When the ball's in the air, I feel like it's my ball too," he said.
"It helps a lot, honestly, because I know routes and I know what the routes are going to be. I have a feel for the routes. I've ran the route before so I can kind of break on the route like a receiver. Just little things like that give me an edge on some things."
It remains to be seen how the cornerback rotation takes shape when Lewis and Awuzie return. One of the deepest spots on the roster, the cornerback depth chart also includes veterans Anthony Brown and Daryl Worley. Both have had strong camps, too.
Diggs is focused on getting better every day. The rest will sort itself out. And without preseason this year, he's treating practice like game reps.
"They say that you need those preseason games, but at the end of the day I feel like football is football. You go out there, line up, if you can do it, you can do it. If you can't, you can't," he said. "You just get thrown in the fire and if you can handle it, you can handle it. If you can't, you can't. I feel like that's what separates a lot of people. But I'm prepared and I'm ready. I'm ready to go."