The Washington Redskins faced the then undefeated Carolina Panthers in Week 11 last season. That mean not only dealing with quarterback Cam Newton, but emerging cornerback star Josh Norman, who signed a five-year, $75 million contract with the Redskins Friday night.
There were plenty of questions asked in press conferences that week about the middling season-to-date -- not sure how many forecasted a 5-2 finish at the time -- and the potent opponent. Norman was one of the Carolina players the Redskins media asked quarterback Kirk Cousins and offensive coordinator Sean McVay about specifically. The local media also had the opportunity to chat with the cornerback ahead of the game. Here's what they said.
* Cousins on being attentive to Norman:
“You definitely need to be aware of great players like that, understand where they are, try to study them the best you can through film as to what their style of play is. He’s been very, very productive. I had the opportunity to train with him going into the draft and he came from Coastal Carolina, and although it wasn’t like people were labeling him as a first-round pick back then, when we would go out and do one-on-ones and throw with the DBs out there, you could see the ability. Very physical, good size and he had the mentality of a corner, which is confidence and swagger and an ability to be out there on an island and never question or doubt himself. I respected him back then and I guess in that sense his success has been no surprise. He’ll be a great challenge for me and for our receivers to go against him. We’re excited about that because we love going against the best.”
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* McVay on Norman:
“Well, I think he’s got the ability to play zone coverage where he does an excellent job keying the quarterback. You can see he’s patient in his technique. He’s physical in the run game in terms of his man-to-man. He stays square at the line of scrimmage. He’s fluid — being able to turn and run with guys — and he’s got great ball skills. So, I think he’s kind of a combination of all those traits that you’re looking for in a corner. He’s got some length. You can see why he’s getting the notoriety that he is because when you turn on the tape, [No.] 24 definitely jumps off the screen at you.”
* Norman on the challenge of covering WR DeSean Jackson:
“Well, it’s always a challenge to just cover any receiver, but him especially. He’s a guy that likes to take it over the top and then he breaks his route off. We just have got to know and understand that and welcome that challenge.”
* If Norman has noticed teams starting to throw away from him:
“Yeah, I’ve kind of noticed that a bit. I’m kind of trying to switch some stuff up so they can’t but at the same time I’ve just got to play the defense and the scheme in which the defense allows me to play and not try to play out of it to go get a play because I’m hungry to do something. I’ve just got to maintain my discipline and if they don’t come then I’ve just got to be satisfied with that and try not to overthink it."
* Norman on the difference in QB Kirk Cousins at this point in the season:
“Kirk, I remember him back at IMG [Academy]. He was one of the IMG guys when I was out there training with him. I can just say, personally, he’s one of the guys I feel like can lead a team. His poise and morale is great. He’s a great leader, I feel. His ball and his delivery… He’s always been smart in timing with his throws. I just can’t say enough good things about him.”
On if any changes to the defense from the second half of last season carried over to this year:
“Well, the mentality, when we was going through that streak or whatever, they ended up making some changes and put some guys in places where they were able to make some stuff happen. Once we were able to put guys in place, that aggressive mentality of the coaching scheme kind of ended up kicking into place. And when that started to happen, we started moving some stuff around and started to shape up. As you see, we’re still doing that same stuff today.”
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