MANKATO, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings felt they might have found a steal in the 2015 draft when they took Maryland wide receiver Stefon Diggs with the 146th overall pick. A week into training camp, Diggs has lived up to the role. He turned in one of his best performances under the lights on Saturday night.
Diggs was one of the stars of the Vikings' annual evening practice at Blakeslee Stadium, drawing cheers from the capacity crowd of 10,300 with a series of impressive catches. He hauled in a 40-yard touchdown from Shaun Hill on a ball over his head, went low to catch a ball over the middle in traffic and took a touchdown pass away from Marcus Sherels on a corner route in a red zone drill.
"Some guys showed up big tonight, talking about Stefon Diggs," quarterback Teddy Bridgewater said. "(He's) showing what it takes to play in this league."
The Vikings have also given Diggs some work as a kick and punt returner, after he posted impressive numbers as a return man at Maryland. He'd have to unseat either Cordarrelle Patterson or Marcus Sherels to win one of those jobs, and he'll be fighting for playing time in a crowded group of receivers. But it seems hard to envision Diggs not making the team, and he's put together a solid start to camp.
Here are some other notes from Saturday's practice:
Play of the day: It was probably one of Diggs' touchdown catches, but Charles Johnson also had a strong night, and looked particularly good in a red zone drill early in practice, catching a ball in the back of the end zone on a corner route from Bridgewater. Johnson spent some time drilling his footwork this offseason, and he's had a good connection with Bridgewater during the first week of practices.
Slot switch: The Vikings moved Terence Newman into the slot in some 11-on-11 work, shifting Trae Waynes outside as they gave their first-round pick a few snaps at left cornerback. The Vikings have been putting Waynes in the slot in an effort to teach him the position, but if he eventually starts, he'd likely be at left corner. He made an impressive play to break up a pass intended for Jarius Wright, stepping in front of the receiver to swat down a ball on a hitch route.
Nickel rotation: It seems clear the Vikings will have Anthony Barr as one of their two nickel linebackers, but rookie Eric Kendricks might be battling Chad Greenway for the other spot. The Vikings rotated both players in nickel work with Barr on Saturday night, and even if the Vikings wind up starting a different player at middle linebacker, they could use Kendricks in the nickel because of his solid pass-coverage skills.
Running backs struggle in pass protection: When he was asked about the pass-protection drills he did for running backs on Friday, coach Mike Zimmer punctuated his response with, "We need to do it more." The Vikings got some more work at it on Saturday night, and pass-rushers once again got the better of their backs. Matt Asiata, who might have been the Vikings' best running back in pass protection last year, was among the sturdier backs in the blitz drill.
Walsh 6-for-8: The Vikings had a field goal period during Saturday's practice, and kicker Blair Walsh hit six of his eight attempts. Walsh's final kick, from 52 yards out, drifted wide left.