FRISCO, Texas - Second-round pick Trevon Diggs started at cornerback in his NFL debut against the Rams, and Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy is impressed with the rookie's early performance as the defense prepares for another test this Sunday from the Falcons' receivers.
McCarthy was asked Thursday if he would hesitate playing Diggs against seven-time Pro Bowler Julio Jones. He didn't reveal any potential strategy but made clear that Diggs has earned his spot in the starting lineup since the start of training camp just over a month ago.
"How we'll line them up and so forth, that will be determined Sunday. But the reality is I don't have any hesitations on playing the young man, and no disrespect to Julio or any of the (Falcons') receivers," McCarthy said. "He's earned a starting position at corner for so many good reasons. He'll line up and play and the game will unfold the way it does. But he's a very impressive young man. He's off to a good start."
Diggs started opposite Chidobe Awuzie in the season opener with Anthony Brown holding the slot position. He posted three tackles and almost intercepted Rams quarterback Jared Goff in the second half of the Cowboys' 20-17 loss in LA.
The rookie will be tested Sunday at AT&T Stadium no matter who he matches up against. The Falcons' top three receivers each had nine catches and passed the 100-yard mark in a Week 1 loss to Seattle: Jones (157), Calvin Ridley (130, two touchdowns) and Russell Gage (114).
McCarthy has been impressed with Diggs' poise despite his inexperience at the NFL level.
"Outside of his obvious high skill set to play the position and the physical measurables, the thing that I'm so impressed with off his college tape and he's brought it here to Dallas is he has such a patience and calmness to him when he's in coverage," McCarthy said. "And that breeds, to me, the confidence that he plays with and the understanding that he plays with, not only what's expected of him and how he fits into the coverage scheme, but his ability to understand route running, the breaking points of a route, the stem of a route. But he plays with a lot of maturity in his coverage. That's something I've been impressed with from day one.
"He doesn't panic out there. When the inexperienced player sometimes gets in a tough spot, that goes back to that timing and rhythm and being in sync that you're always trying to improve on as a football team. But he's a very confident young man."
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