Return of Stefon Diggs expected to boost Vikings’ passing game

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) catches a pass in the first quarter against New Orleans Saints defensive back P.J. Williams (26) at U.S. Bank Stadium on Oct. 28, 2018.

The last time the Vikings played, Stefon Diggs watched from the sideline, and it wasn’t much fun.

“It was terrible,’’ Diggs said about missing his first game of the season. “I felt horrible. It’s like watching your brothers go outside and play and you got to stay in the house.”

The wide receiver missed a 24-9 victory over Detroit on Nov. 4 because of bruised ribs, but he said Thursday he will play against the Bears on Sunday night in Chicago.

Diggs said he could have played against the Lions had it been a playoff game. The Vikings are coming off a bye week, and Diggs said the rest helped.

“I feel good now,” said Diggs, a full participant in practice Wednesday and Thursday. “I just needed a little bit of time.”

Diggs is second on the Vikings with 58 catches for 587 yards. The team’s top receiver, Adam Thielen, has 78 grabs for 947 yards, but found it tougher when Diggs wasn’t on the other side of the field.

The Lions paid more attention to Thielen, limiting him to four catches for just 22 yards, ending his streak of eight straight games with 100 or more receiving yards. That was an NFL record to start a season, and tied the mark for most in a row overall.

“Obviously, it’s critical to have all your main guys on the field,” Thielen said. “The more play-makers you can have on the field, especially when (Diggs is) probably your best play-maker, obviously it’s good to have him back.”

Diggs has had some big games at Chicago. As a rookie in 2015, he caught six passes for 95 yards. In 2016, he had eight receptions for 76 yards.

In the 2015 game, just his fourth in the NFL, Diggs turned a short pass into a dramatic 40-yard touchdown reception from Teddy Bridgewater with 1:49 left that tied the score 20-20. The Vikings won 23-20 on a last-second field goal.

“That was the time when I was like, ‘Man, this guy’s going to be in the league for a long time and make a lot of plays,’ ” Thielen said of Diggs’ second career touchdown. “I was like, ‘This guy, he’s talented and he’s going to be huge for us in the future.’ ”

With Diggs against Detroit, rookie Chad Beebe helped fill the void with three catches for 21 yards in his NFL debut. Laquon Treadwell had two catches for 37 yards. Both are from the Chicago area.

Treadwell didn’t catch a pass in either of his first two games at Chicago. He’s looking for that to change Sunday.

“I’m expecting a little more on the offensive side, getting the ball in my hands early,” he said. “It’ll be fun to let the (hometown fans) see that, and the kids in the community who knew me growing up (in Crete, Ill.). … I’m more on the team right now, honestly.”