Five takeaways from Redskins cornerback Josh Norman's media session with reporters on Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016, at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.
1. Norman didn't really think much about this matchup until this week.
Once the ball finally kicks off Monday night at FedExField, it will have been 244 days since Norman was unceremoniously removed from the Panthers' roster, as Carolina shocked the NFL by rescinding the All-Pro cornerback's franchise tag on April 20.
Yes, Norman has frequently been asked about the ending of his career in Carolina ever since he joined the Redskins' roster on April 22. But it wasn't until this week when he began to watch film of Carolina's offense that his attention fully turned to his former team.
"It's kind of pretty much what it all comes down to is this week because you don't want to look over ahead of your next opponent or your next one, but my brothers and familia is was kind of like, 'You know, Carolina coming up, we want to come to that game,'" Norman said. "So, yeah, some on the way, so we'll think about it when it comes. Now, here, everybody filling up the box, so it's that much of an anticipation of the game so we're getting prepared for that just like any other team and can't, can't wait. Can't wait."
Norman, of course, is no stranger to quarterback Cam Newton, wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin and the rest of that offense, as he spent his first four NFL seasons with the Panthers. While they have some very successful pieces in place, they've struggled quite a bit this season to generate the same sort of scoring output they produced last year.
Those players are still his friends, but their performances no longer have an impact on his positive outings.
"That's on them," Norman said. "I don't have anything to do with that. My success is determined by where I'm at and what I do for the team or organization that I'm with. I was there one point in time, had fun, was successful, but I'm here now and it's kind of like, you know, I want to be successful here more so than I do anywhere else."
2. If he had any more fire burning inside him, everything around him would be in trouble.
It's not like Norman – a guy who feeds of intensity – needs anything to get him going on game days, but facing the Panthers with playoff implications has him juiced up.
The Washington Redskins announced on Friday, April 22, the signing of free agent cornerback Josh Norman. Here's a gallery of photos from his career.
When asked if there was any way that he could be any more fired up, he joked that all of the cameras in the media interview room would be burned down.
"I think come Monday night, those emotions I think they will probably come out and show themselves," Norman said. "I don't know what it'll be because, like I said, it's my first time being in something like this. And, yeah, coming over here is making guys on this team better, you know? Making the defensive line more hungry, making the linebackers play downhill and drop out in a coverage, making the secondary break on the ball and make plays, man. Not so much going out and letting the offense lead us, but the defense lead us."
Norman added that it will be his job to not only lead the defense, but for the unit to set the tone for the entire game.
"You come and you teach guys," Norman said. "You don't hog it and keep it to yourself. That's why I try to be a leader in that aspect and help guys out where they need be. And so be it, that's how I am."
3. Norman wants to get in on the action more often.
When it comes to the best cornerbacks in NFL past and present, the stat sheet and their impact on the field don't always reflect each other.
Take Pro Football Hall of Famer Darrell Green, for example. Green played for the Redskins for 20 full seasons and only managed 54 interceptions – tied for 21st most in NFL history.
Why? Because teams shied away from targeting him.
Norman is experiencing something similar in his first season with the Redskins, as his passes defensed (19 to 13) and interception (four to one) are down from last season.
But that's not all on him, as opposing offenses sometimes just ignore the side of the field he's on. Take last week's game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Norman was only targeted twice for no receptions.
"You find a play," Norman said in response of his lack of targets. "There's no such thing as not being a part of something, you find something. You don't sit around and pick daisies out there. You go out there and you find and look for some meat. There's always meat out there. It's depending on where you want to go to get it, but there's always meat on that bone – it's still out there. The D-linemen, they can't eat everything all day. They can't. Even though I know they want to be selfish and hog all the food from us, there's still some more morsels out there to get."
So, will Newton ultimately target him?
"I hope so," Norman said with a smile.
4. But when he isn't in on a play, Norman has to remind himself to stay disciplined.
Norman thrives on the ability to change games and make big-time plays. But as a cornerback on the outside, he's on an island that sometimes almost never sees the ball come in his direction.
Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman has been voted the 11th best player on the NFL's "Top 100 Players of 2016" list.
At times, that can get players out of rhythm from the game pace. Norman, however, knows completely that he must keep his mind in the game at all times.
"I have got to stay on top because 69 plays – all good plays – but that one 70 is the one they're going to talk about if I get beat," Norman said. "So I try not to let that happen, but if it does, I come back next week and get better from it."
For a player of Norman's capabilities, though, the coaching staff can find ways to get him involved, as was the case two weeks ago against the Arizona Cardinals when the Coastal Carolina saw his most action inside to date.
"If Coach tells me to go run through this B-gap, I'm going to put my facemask through the B-gap," Norman said. "That's what we're going to do and we're going to be successful at it."
5. Norman and Newton have engaged in some interesting pickup basketball games before.
Competitive family vs. competitive family. The Normans vs. the Newtons.
Not only were Norman and Newton competitive whenever they stepped on the field together (there was their training camp tussle last year), they tried to get the upper hand in activities off it.
One of the ways they'd go at it was through family basketball games.
"For him, his cousins, and his brothers – Big Cecil – they like to play me and my brothers on the offseason," Norman said. "He's like so-called LeBron James of his team and we're like synchronized swimmers on our team. We run plays and do everything just like we're coached to do, and we beat their tail every single time. So, little 'Bron out here but don't have a team. So it's kind of hard for him to win if you don't. So, therefore, I take solace in understanding that we kick butt and we will again this year when we go and play each other this summer."