Cowboys CB DaRon Bland ready for challenge of filling Trevon Diggs’ starting spot

Cowboys All-Pro cornerback Trevon Diggs is done for the season with a torn ACL in his left knee, a “big blow” to the Dallas defense in the estimation of head coach Mike McCarthy.

“It’s just awful. He was playing off the charts. Obviously a big blow. Your heart goes out to Trevon,” McCarthy said Friday. “You just make sure he feels the love and support, and we’ve gotta keep moving forward.”

Slot cornerback DaRon Bland moves forward on the Dallas defensive depth chart to what is likely to be exclusive work at outside cornerback. He played nickel, dime and slot cornerback in a varied role that emphasized his versatility in defensive coordinator Dan Quinn’s scheme. On Sunday at Arizona, Bland assumes the starting spot that belonged to Diggs.

“Moving back to the outside will be good, I just got to keep my head straight,” Bland said Friday. “I’m definitely a lot more comfortable. I’m not playing as much on instincts.”

Jourdan Lewis is taking over Bland’s role with others in the mix on a more limited basis.

Bland, who said he was “devastated” when Diggs went to the turf in practice Thursday afternoon, has enormous shoes to fill.

A fifth-round pick in 2022, Bland, 24, earned the trust of teammates and has shown a nose for the ball. He returned an interception of Giants quarterback Daniel Jones for a touchdown in the opener.

Diggs forced two turnovers in Week 1 and sealed last week’s win over the Jets with an interception, backing up his vow to become “the complete cornerback” when he signed a five-year, $97.5 million extension in the offseason.

Veteran starting cornerback Stephon Gilmore told Bland, “Don’t try to do too much. Just be you.”

Diggs, 25, led the NFL with 11 interceptions in 2021. The two-time Pro Bowl selection has 18 picks — including two returned for touchdowns — to go along with 173 tackles in 47 career games (46 starts) since being selected by Dallas in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft.