There has never been a player in the history of the Dallas Cowboys franchise who has achieved what Trevon Diggs is currently achieving -- present tense -- and they had two completely healthy eyes at the time. Diggs has amassed a historic six interceptions in his first five games of the 2021 NFL regular season, grabbing his sixth against quarterback Mike Glennon in the Cowboys' convincing victory over the New York Giants in Week 5, and after nearly picking off Daniel Jones on two separate occasions. And as impressive as that feat is, it's made even more so by a recent revelation regarding his sight.
Diggs was apparently nursing an eye issue heading into the game, and in both of his eyes, according to defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. Following the victory on Sunday, Quinn revealed Diggs had battled through a pretty major bout of pink eye last week, but that didn't stop him from being a full participant in every practice (per the injury report) or from helping to bury the Giants at AT&T Stadium.
"One of the things that is remarkable about him is he really had a tough week," said Quinn. "Battling the pink eye -- both eyes -- gunk and nastiness flowing out of his eyes. [He had a] big shade on it at practice, going and battling and getting ready knowing he needed the reps. It really shows this is a true competitor. To go for the ball skills, to finish it out."
Anyone who's ever suffered pink eye knows it's an infection that not only generates discharge from the eye, but it also creates a massive level of itching, blurred vision (from excessive moisture) and irritation, which is enough to make the average person take a seat. Considering Diggs dealt with this in both of his eyes, still practiced completely and went on to not only play against the Giants -- while also nursing a back injury and then an ankle injury suffered in-game on Sunday -- it goes to just how different he is from anything the Cowboys have seen before.
For his part, Quinn is floored by everything about Diggs.
"It would have been easy for him to back away and say, 'I've got to get this right,'", said Quinn. "If feels like you want to scratch your eyes out. I thought it showed a lot for him to battle through. I've certainly been impressed. But where does it come from? He's quiet by nature, but I'd say don't confuse that quiet demeanor.
"This is a true wolf in sheep's clothing. This guy is a rare competitor. I love the way he goes after it and battles. He's got some excellent players to go against in practice so if you really want to test yourself, look no further than our own practice field.
"He's definitely usually up for that challenge."
That wolf also isn't interested in only dominating on the defensive side of the ball -- lobbying quarterback Dak Prescott and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore for snaps at wide receiver, a position he played before being converted to defensive back at Alabama by Nick Saban. But while it's not impossible for Diggs to mirror Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders in that regard, seeing as Sanders was a two-way player for the Cowboys while also returning kicks and punts, it's unlikely to happen anytime soon; and that's a point driven home by team exec Stephen Jones, noting how valuable Diggs is on defense but admittedly not slamming the door shut on the idea.
It all stems from Diggs' mutant ability to find the ball, driven by the fact he doesn't think he's a cornerback at all. In his mind, he's a wide receiver playing defense.
"[Coach Mike McCarthy] is absolutely right," said Diggs in his post-game press conference on Sunday. "I feel like when the ball is in the air, I know I can get it. I feel like it's my ball. I've just got to continue to try to make plays and practice every day."
He'll see no disagreement from Quinn there.
"You want to have good ball skills then there are guys with excellent ball skills," said Quinn. "He falls into that category. When you go up, do you attack it like you're going to go catch it or do you go up to defend it. He goes up like he's going to get it. ... I think I saw it early on: the ball skills, the tracking."
But one thing Diggs already has on Sanders, other than breaking Everson Walls' record for most interceptions to begin a season, is in his willingness and ability to get his hands dirty as an open-field tackler. Diggs already has a handful of impact tackles this season, unafraid to size up an opposing wide receiver and deliver a critical blow. There's no matador in his approach, and no business decisions are being made on the field by the second-year talent, which is something Quinn notices as well but that's thus far flown under the radar because of his ongoing interception streak.
"He's an excellent tackler as well," Quinn added. "When you see him ... he's got space against a runner or a receiver, so for him in the short areas of tackling. I was impressed by that. I'm saying overall, just his knowledge, those are things.
"This is a player going into his second year and so he's making that jump that you hope players do from Year 1 to Year 2, and that acceleration that takes place. Not all the time, but the most often this is when the biggest jump, and then another one from [Year 2] to [Year 3] and then [Year 3] to [Year 4] -- when you get to a new space and how do I take it further?
"I think he's doing that."
And he's doing it even when his biggest opponents are his own eyes.