Where’s Diggs? Von Miller not concerned by Bills receiver skipping voluntary practices

FILE - Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) runs a route during the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023, in Orchard Park, N.Y. Discounting the cryptic messages Diggs posted on social media a few months ago and his absence from the start of voluntary practices this week, teammate Von Miller expects the receiver to be back better than ever in time for the team's mandatory minicamp next month. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus, File)

FILE – Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) runs a route during the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023, in Orchard Park, N.Y. Discounting the cryptic messages Diggs posted on social media a few months ago and his absence from the start of voluntary practices this week, teammate Von Miller expects the receiver to be back better than ever in time for the team’s mandatory minicamp next month. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus, File)

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Von Miller isn’t the least bit concerned about Buffalo Bills teammate Stefon Diggs missing voluntary spring practices. Nor is the veteran pass rusher reading anything into the cryptic messages the receiver posted on his social media accounts this offseason.

Miller is far too familiar with Diggs’ competitive drive, commitment to football and close relationship with quarterback Josh Allen in being able to confidently say he’ll be back in Buffalo when the time is necessary.

“He’s not here right now, but I don’t think it should ever be a question is football No. 1 on his mind,” Miller said, noting he anticipates Diggs to be present for Buffalo’s three mandatory practices scheduled to open in three weeks.

“He’s going to show that he’s a better version of Stefon Diggs on and off the football field. And for me and my point of view as a teammate … those are really the things that matter to me,” he added. “Is he going to be better than last year? Is he going to compete? Does he still love the game? And all of those boxes are checked.”

This isn’t the first time Diggs has skipped voluntary practices entering his fourth year in Buffalo.

And yet, the 29-year-old has left Bills followers unnerved by frustrations he expressed on social media since Buffalo’s season ended with a dud in a 27-10 loss to Cincinnati in the divisional round of the playoffs in January.

It was an outing in which Diggs was caught by TV cameras making animated raised-arm gestures at Allen on the sideline. His frustrations spilled over afterward, when he immediately bolted from the locker room before coach Sean McDermott addressed the team, leading to teammate Isaiah McKenzie chasing down Diggs and convincing him to return.

A day later, Diggs avoided the media and instead shared his disappointment by posting three messages on his Twitter account.

He opened with, “Want me to be okay with losing? Nah,” and followed it up by writing, “Want me to be okay with our level of play when it’s not up to the standard? Nah.” Diggs then closed with: “It’s easy to criticize my reaction more than the result.”

In March, Diggs briefly unfollowed the Bills on Twitter, though the team is once again listed among the 593 accounts he follows, a list that includes many of his teammates.

“Stef’s gonna Stef,” Allen said last month when asked about Diggs’ postings. “I love the guy. He is one of my favorite people on this planet. He is so fiery, so competitive, he wants the ball in his hands 24-7 and I’m never gonna not like a guy like that. He wants what’s best for the team.”

General manager Brandon Beane voiced a similar sentiment in January.

“I’m an emotional guy, too. And if I was losing out there, sometimes I probably think I’d be worse than Stef,” Beane said.

Last month, when Diggs declined to show up for the start of Buffalo’s voluntary workouts, Beane said he’s been in regular contact with the player and preferred to keep the conversations private.

Diggs has a history of being mercurial dating to his first five seasons in Minnesota, where the receiver drew more than $200,000 in team fines for skipping two days of team activities following a loss at Chicago in 2019.

Diggs has often acknowledged he wasn’t the best teammate in Minnesota, and focused on being a more positive influence after the Bills gave up a first-round draft pick to acquire him in a trade in March 2020.

Aside from being honored to be voted a team captain in 2021, Diggs has been one of the NFL’s most productive receivers by combining for 365 catches for 4,189 yards and 29 touchdowns — one fewer than he had in Minnesota — in his three seasons in Buffalo.

He’s been financially rewarded with a four-year, $96 million contract that kicks in this season. The only thing missing has been falling short of reaching the Super Bowl. After a heart-breaking 42-36 overtime loss at Kansas City in the AFC championship game three years ago, Buffalo’s past two seasons ended in the divisional round.

Miller considered it ludicrous for Diggs to want out of Buffalo, given the key role he plays on offense and the relationship he’s built with Allen.

“He’s not going anywhere. God, the Josh Allen to Stefon Diggs connection is what makes all of these things go for us here in Buffalo,” Miller said. “Sometimes you just need a little bit of time.”

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