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Stefon Diggs Provides Leadership During Difficult Time for Bills

The wide receiver has been focused on the team's success instead of personal statistics.

Based on his history, Stefon Diggs could be well on his way to earning an Odell Beckham-type exit from the Buffalo Bills by now. But that "C" attached to his jersey means more to him than anything else.

So it doesn't matter that a year after leading the NFL in receptions, he's not even leading his team in that category after eight games, which include losses in two of their last three and a disastrous six-point output against the Jacksonville Jaguars last Sunday.

When Diggs met with reporters Wednesday, he could have easily made a case to be targeted as often as he was last season, when the Bills' offensive juggernaut exploded on the scene after acquiring him in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings.

Instead, he talked about what he could do without the ball in his hands to make the team better.

"You can ask any receiver how many times he wants the ball," Diggs said, "and it would be every time, every play. "... But for me, I just try to be a good teammate, I try to have the right approach and still be that positivity regardless if I have the ball in my hands and find other ways to try to impact the game. I know it's pretty hard, but whether it's throwing a block here or being an encouragement, helping my O-line or being there for them — but as far as not being a target, I can't control it too much and I just try to do my job and hopefully just let the chips fall where they lay. But as far as I can contribute, I'm doing the best that I can."

Although Diggs remains a major component of this offense, with 43 catches on a team-high 73 targets for a team-high 588 yards, he's getting fewer opportunities as quarterback Josh Allen is distributing the ball a little more evenly this season. Through eight games in 2020, Diggs had been targeted 79 times, leading to 54 catches for 695 yards.

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One of the reasons he's been getting the ball less has been the emergence of tight end Dawson Knox, who despite missing the last two games with a broken hand has 21 catches for 286 yards and a team-high five touchdowns.

On the other hand, Diggs acknowledged that having a force like Knox at tight end helps open things for everyone else. Knox on Wednesday returned to practice on a limited basis and hopes to play this coming Sunday against the New York Jets.

"I kind of credit it to depth," Diggs said. "I feel like Dawson Knox is ... an intricate part in our offense. You know, [Tommy] Sweeney didn't do a bad job when he was out there as well. But we got a lot of depth as far as guys that can play at a high level. And I feel like Knox is another guy that, you know, he was playing at such a high level before he got hurt.

"Looking forward to him picking up where he left off."

Which would probably mean fewer catches for Diggs, who promises to keep pushing regardless of the circumstances.

"As a receiver, you want the ball a million times, but that's not always the game plan, that's not always how things shake out out there," he said. "So for me, I'm just going to continue to try to play at a high level, continue to get open and try to make plays when they do come away."

Nick Fierro is the publisher of Bills Central. Check out the latest Bills news at www.si.com/nfl/bills and follow Fierro on Twitter at @NickFierro. Email to Nicky300@aol.com.