As they look to rebound in 2017, the Redskins' defense -- led by cornerback Josh Norman -- gave the offense some tests in a competitive first week of OTAs.
Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman is already noticing major improvements on both sides of the ball after the first week of OTAs at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.
Defensively, Norman says the most notable difference has been "guys making plays on the ball", and credits that to a commitment to new defensive coordinator Greg Manusky's aggressivstyle of play.
In 2016, the Redskins' pass defense struggled, giving up 258.1 yards per game through the air. However, Norman believes that Washington's offseason acquisitions -- coupled with Manusky's guidance -- will produce a much better product this season.
"We will [be good]," Norman said. "I put things at a fixed point. We will be [good] because we have guys capable of being that. We have guys capable of doing that. And so they will do that and we will be better. We're not going to have the product we had last year. That's for sure. We have a whole heck of an edge rush out here that's pretty darn good. And that secondary, we brought guys in that are going to fill that void for us. We're going to be a whole lot better than we were last year. The stuff they're having us do, the scheme in which we're playing in is going to fit to what our suits are and what we're most capable of being and most capable of doing. I think it's going to be a lot different result you see on the field."
On Tuesday, Washington's defense looked the part, pestering quarterback Trent Williams with pressure defense that resulted in a few interceptions. However, Cousins did his homework later that night, made some adjustments and Wednesday's practice followed a different narrative.
"[Kirk] sent me a text and was like, 'Ah, I have to get this coverage down,'" Norman said. "I was like, 'Man, don't worry. You're going to get it'. Today, he came out here and bombs over Baghdad. I was like, 'this guy.' But that's that competition. It gets us better and we're able to see that."
Norman and head coach Jay Gruden agree that one of the keys to success heading into 2017 will be for both sides of the ball to continue to push each other in practice, and that competitive nature was evident during the team's first week of OTAs.
"When you have a talented group, a competitive group, plays will be made, one side or the other," Gruden said on Wednesday. "Good thing being head coach, I can celebrate both ways… or I could be angry both ways, you know? [Laughter] 'Don't throw picks… great job getting the pick.' But it's very competitive. Guys are really working hard. It's good so far."