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Cardinals Coach Plans to Track Stefon Diggs with Patrick Peterson

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Thirteen catches for 80 yards one week, and 13 more for 164 can make an NFL receiver a marked man.

Such is the case for Stefon Diggs heading into Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Diggs became the first player in NFL history to have a baker's dozen or more catches in consecutive weeks against Detroit and at Washington. He also broke Hall of Famer Cris Carter's franchise record of 24 catches in a two-game span in 1995 (12 at Arizona and 12 against New Orleans).

The 22-year-old Diggs has totaled 113 receptions and 1,430 yards in 21 games, which rank second in history by a Vikings player before turning 23. Percy Harvin totaled 131 receptions and 1,658 yards before turning 23, which Diggs will hit on Nov. 29.

No. 21 may be more important on Sunday.

When Cardinals Head Coach Bruce Arians was asked during a conference call this week about how to best slow down Diggs, he said, "Put Patrick Peterson on him and hope that works."

Peterson, a five-time Pro Bowler and fifth overall pick of the 2011 NFL Draft, has 19 interceptions and 61 passes defended. He's played all 89 games possible and has often shadowed a team's top receiver.

Asked if there would be a moment to focus on the matchup between the two players and possibly enjoy a good battle, Vikings Head Coach and defensive backs guru Mike Zimmer said "I'm just trying to win, I'm not enjoying anything."

The Vikings (5-4) are hungry for their first win since Oct. 9. The Cardinals are 4-4-1 but have only lost once since Oct. 6.

Interim Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur, who is preparing for his third game on the call, was asked about Diggs' production the past two weeks.

"He has found a way to get open. He caught a bunch of balls on the last drive, and we try to spread the ball around if we can," Shurmur said. "Depending on the game, I feel like sometimes, catches come in bunches.

"The week before, Kyle [Rudolph] only got one touch, and then last week, he got a few more," Shurmur added. "So, we try to match our players up against the players we're playing against, but certainly, there's progressions involved. So, he just happened to be first or second in progressions and made some good plays."

Quarterback Sam Bradford, who has gone 31-of-40 passing in each of the past two weeks, said Diggs has shown an ability to beat zone defenses and man-to-man coverage.

"I think Diggs is great at finding soft spots in zones," Bradford said. "He's great at just finding seams in there. You know, getting open and making sure that he presents himself to me."

Bradford, however, has been able to spread the ball around. The Vikings are one of three NFL teams (Lions and Saints) to have four players with 30-plus receptions and two or more touchdown catches apiece. In addition to Diggs, Kyle Rudolph, Adam Thielen and Cordarrelle Patterson have 30 or more catches this season.

"We certainly feel like Stefon is a good matchup, but we have to give healthy respect to Peterson," Shurmur said. "He's an outstanding football player, and I guess the challenge is then that everybody else has to do their part. And so, when we go into the game, we certainly keep in mind the matchups that we're facing, but we also understand the strengths of our guys."

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