The Panthers secondary has been getting picked apart this year. Opposing quarterbacks have had a field day throwing against Carolina.
This hasn't meant success for their number one wide receivers, due in large part to cornerback Josh Norman. Since returning from injury, the second year cornerback has been playing like a shut down cornerback. The past three games have seen players like Julio Jones, Jeremy Maclin and Marques Colston held under 60 yards receiving and no touchdowns.
According to Pro Football Focus, the past three games Norman has been target 22 times and allowed only 11 receptions. He has given up 114 receiving yards during that stretch but no touchdowns. He has actually not allowed a touchdown reception all season.
One of the reasons for his success is his ability to play physical against wide receivers. In this play against Julio Jones, the Falcons wide receiver is running a quick slant. Norman is able to engage Jones early in the route and disrupt the play.
He stays right with Jones and is able to knock away the pass. What has become a lost art in the NFL, Norman was able to reach around Jones to knock down the pass without being called for pass interference.
Another reason for his success is that he hasn’t bit on double moves, like this play against Jeremy Maclin. The Eagles wide receiver ran an out route to the sideline and then released up the field.
Norman very easily could have committed on the out route, even after Sanchez threw a pump fake, but he sat on the go route. Norman had this play diagnosed perfectly and had the interception but wasn’t able to get the left foot inbounds.
The rest of the season won't be easy as he will face speedy wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, last year's leading receiver Josh Gordon along with familiar division foes Julio Jones, Vincent Jackson, and Marques Colston. However, Norman has proven he is up for the challenge and should be a key for this defense over the final five weeks.