For rookies, the big challenge is often adapting to the size and speed of the other players in the NFL. For Eric Norwood, that is not the case. The 6-foot-1, 252-pound hybrid defender has the size and speed to wreak havoc on opposing offenses.
That doesn't mean his transition comes without speed bumps.
"It takes some time to get adjusted to the terminology," he said. "The speed issue isn't very difficult. The terminology and everything is a lot harder to get used to because you might have four or five checks for just one defense. They're saying all these words you've never heard before, so it's kind of like learning a different language."
LB/DE Eric Norwood
It's a lot to take in. Fortunately, Norwood's time at South Carolina prepared him well.
"The coaches I had really made a big difference," he said. "Also, the ratio I had as far as athletics to academics. My teammates and I would push each other very hard, so I guess it paid off."
Some South Carolina alumni have also helped Norwood with his transition. Players such as Sidney Rice and Jasper Brinkley of the Minnesota Vikings; John Abraham of the Atlanta Falcons; and former Philadelphia Eagles great Deuce Staley have all served as mentors.
Norwood has found some new mentors in Carolina, as well.
"Jon Beason and James Anderson, they've been helping me with different stuff, because I'm kind of making the same mistakes they made when they first got into the defense," Norwood said. "They've just told me not to make the same mistake twice. I've picked up the defense very well and I think it's due to those guys helping me."
Norwood is clearly excited to be in Carolina, but this love affair goes both ways. The Panthers are very high and Norwood and believe he was a steal in the fourth round.
And while he has made some mistakes during minicamps and OTAs, they resulted from a lack of experience, not a lack of effort.
"At the end of the day it's all football, so that's what I love to do," he said. "I believe they can see my passion for it and that's why they drafted me."
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