Image Map

NOTEBOOK: Lions moving forward with Diggs at safety

Posted Dec 7, 2017

Tim Twentyman covers all the news from Thursday's practice including Quandre Diggs at safety, Matthew Stafford throws and more.

Glover Quin entered the NFL as a cornerback out of New Mexico. He played the nickel cornerback spot in Houston before making the move to safety in year three.

Quin has since become one of the best safeties in the game, and he thinks Quandre Diggs, who recently made a similar move from nickel to safety in Detroit, has a chance to be a pretty good safety.

“He actually looked better than I looked as a nickel when I came in,” Quin said this week of Diggs. “He’s smart, physical, can tackle, all those different things. So, when you see a player that is like that, with the ball skills he has, you obviously feel like, ‘Man, if we can put the guy at safety, he should be able to handle it.’”

Diggs did a pretty good job making his first career start at safety last week for the injured Tavon Wilson. Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said he plans to continue to play Diggs at safety moving forward.

Talking with Diggs this week, he likes the move to safety because he feels he can make more plays stepping back and seeing more of the field from the strong safety spot. Playing inside, at slot corner, the game comes at that position awfully fast.

At safety, Diggs has a chance to read what’s happening in front of him, and has more time to react to it. For an instinctive player like him, that could lead to more plays being made.

“You can definitely see it better (at safety) and let your instincts play a lot more," Quin said. "If you’re looking at the right things. You have to look at the right things and when you train yourself to look at the right things, it happens easily.”

That’s where Quin becomes so important to Diggs in this process. Quin is one of the best in the business at studying film, finding tendencies, and reading and reacting.

Quin says Diggs has attached himself to his hip since making the move to safety.

“We’ve been talking every day,” Quin said. “On the phone, calling each other. Seeing different things on film. I see different things in the meeting room or at practice.

“At the end of the day, if you’re looking at the right things, it’ll take you right where you want to go.”

The Lions are going to see if the skill set Diggs' shown in the nickel translates to the strong safety position that requires a lot of those same skills. It could be a five-game trial to see if this could be a permanent move for Diggs.

STAFFORD THROWS AT PRACTICE

Quarterback Matthew Stafford ramped up his activity Thursday during the open portion of practice.

Stafford had his right ring and pinky fingers taped up, but threw to receivers, and had pretty good zip on the ball. He took most of the first-team reps in the portion of practice open to the media, and that’s certainly a good sign for his availability for Sunday’s game in Tampa Bay.

Stafford injured his throwing hand in the fourth quarter of last week’s game in Baltimore when it was inadvertently stepped on by Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs.

SPENCE HAS SUNDAY CIRCLED

Lions defensive tackle Akeem Spence spent his first four seasons in Tampa Bay as both a reserve and starting defensive tackle.

But when free agency hit this past offseason, Spence said he got little love from the team that drafted and developed him.

Atlanta, Carolina and Minnesota showed interest, along with Detroit, and Spence chose to ultimately sign with Lions.

When Detroit's schedule came out back in April, Spence admitted he circled this Buccaneers game right off the bat.

“This one is real personal,” Spence said this week. “As soon as I walked in the building (this week) and I saw the training room board and it said Tampa Bay Buccaneers, my face just lit up.

Spence played in 16 games for the Buccaneers last year, mostly in a reserve role, and had 19 tackles and a half sack. Through 12 games this year (seven starts), he has 24 tackles, 1.5 sacks and forced a fumble in Detroit.

“I’m very bitter, but with a smile on my face,” Spence said of the way he left Tampa Bay. “This is a good bitter.

“Don’t get me wrong, I love those guys on defense, those are my guys, but it’s just something where you’ve been somewhere four years and you kind of helped build it up, and then you have to disappear elsewhere, I took that kind of personal.”

TIGHT END CONCERNS

The Lions’ defense has given up a touchdown to a tight end in each of the last three contests (two vs. Minnesota). They face a team in Tampa Bay Sunday with two pretty good ones on the roster.

Cameron Brate is being mentioned in the Pro Bowl conversation as he leads the Buccaneers in touchdown receptions with six.

O.J. Howard is a rookie first-round pick out of Atlanta, who is tied for second on the team with four touchdown receptions.

“It’s a big challenge,” Austin said this week about defending Tampa Bay’s tight ends. “They’re both very good.”

"O.J. Howard, a rookie, really can run, big target. And then (Cameron) Brate’s got six touchdowns on the year. Those guys are really good. They catch the ball well. They run well and they do a good job on offense in terms of scheming them and making sure they get open.”