Dallas cut Bryant in the offseason and he remains unsigned. So instead of a Norman versus Bryant storyline dominating the week, it’s simply about the game — and that’s fine with Norman.
“I get a little sigh of relief from all the chatter and can have a quiet game. It’s nice,” Norman said.
Their rivalry began three years ago, when Norman played for the Carolina Panthers and held Bryant to two catches for 26 yards on Thanksgiving. Afterward, Norman fired the first volley.
“Hey, they need to get Dez’s 70 mil back,” Norman told reporters.
After Norman signed with Washington during the 2016 offseason, it meant he’d face Bryant twice a year in the NFC East. Which meant they’d be a storyline each week.
Their second meeting in 2016 contained fireworks as well, with the two getting in one another’s face during the game and then had to be separated on the field afterward. Bryant caught five passes for 72 yards, but only had two for 19 vs. Norman, who covered the receiver everywhere but in the slot.
Bryant said after the game, “I honestly feel like the guy is extremely soft. He’s a bunch of talk. If he was out and about, I wouldn’t dare on my life let him talk to me like that.”
To which Norman replied, “It’s like I’m trash, and he beat me all day. I just don’t get it. Like I said, if that boosts his ego or feeds his fuel or whatever he’s got in his head, so be it. But we’ve played the game three times already, and my numbers speak for themselves. He can go cry, holler, hoot, whatever he wants to do. At the end of the day, like I said, zero touchdowns.”
They did cash in on their rivalry in 2017, with both making a commercial for Samsung Galaxy and poking fun at the other. But the on-field rivalry simmered. Now it’s gone and that’s just fine with Norman.
“I don’t miss it at all,” Norman said. “It’s a relief if anything. I think the media more so misses it than we do, just leading up to it and all the antics that come along with it.”
But Norman also couldn’t help poke the Cowboys a little bit. UFC fighter Conor McGregor attended Dallas’ 40-7 win over Jacksonville and was on the sidelines before the game and even participated in a pre-game huddle with some players trying to get them fired up. When Norman was asked Thursday who he’d bring in to get the team hyped, he had a quick reply.
“It wouldn’t be him, it would be the guy that beat him,” Norman said, referring to Khabib Nurmagomedov. “I don’t understand why they got him. I’m just saying. If I can call that guy, he can come back over to the States. I would definitely bring him here for that match.”
The move is a nod to the Redskins’ confidence in the young players at this position. A corresponding move had not yet been announced.
Hood, a first-round pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2009, has been with Washington since 2016. He started a combined 27 games the past two seasons — at both end and nose tackle — but his playing time has diminished this year.
Hood, a natural end, played nose tackle the previous two years because of injuries to others. Washington re-signed him in the offseason to a one-year deal worth up to $1.78 million, and his $1.2 million base salary was guaranteed when he made the roster out of camp.
He was on the bubble during training camp and might have been cut at that time had Stacy McGee been available. McGee, however, remains on the physically unable to perform list after undergoing core muscle surgery in the spring. He’s eligible to start practicing, but it’s uncertain when he will be on the field again.
LANDOVER, MD – The critics long have pounced on Washington Redskins corner Josh Norman, picking apart his contract and whether he’s worth that sort of cash. He’s used to that. But there was something different this past week.
Norman was more under fire than ever. He was benched for a series vs. New Orleans when a situation grew heated with coach Jay Gruden. Then former teammate DeAngelo Hall said he was more focused on being a celebrity, shoving what had been a whisper around Redskins Park into the open. The scabs of Norman’s game were picked apart. In some ways, his week mirrored the franchise as all facets get picked apart.
Here’s how Norman responded: By making the plays Washington long has needed him to make. And he did it against the team that let him walk – and against good buddy Cam Newton.
Norman wasn’t the only reason Washington beat Carolina, 23-17, Sunday. Far from it. Running back Adrian Peterson rushed 17 times for 97 yards and no statistic has mattered more to Washington this season than his yardage totals. In the Redskins’ three wins, Peterson has surpassed 90 yards each time. He allows them to stay in positive down and distance situations and avoid many third and longs.
But Norman was the one under fire this week. He allowed a long touchdown catch vs. New Orleans thanks to a blown coverage. Then he was benched after halftime after Gruden pulled Norman’s headphones off while a coach was trying to talk, according to multiple reports.
Norman handled his week well, addressing the media on Wednesday. There was no residual effect of the tiff with Gruden; the two had a pleasant exchange later in the week. Gruden even admitted he needed to calm down as well after the halftime situation.
Norman, though, counts more against the cap than any other corner and has since signing with Washington after the 2015 offseason. But his play hasn’t matched the salary, something a number of people inside Redskins Park have stated privately.
But in the second quarter Norman intercepted his first pass since Christmas Even in 2016, grabbing an errant deep ball by Newton – his offseason basketball competitor. It didn’t lead to any points, but it did end one narrative. On the next series, Norman punched a ball out from receiver D.J. Moore for a Redskins takeaway that led to a field goal and 17-0 lead. The Redskins held on, with Carolina failing on fourth down at the Redskins’ 16-yard line. So Norman’s strong first half could have resulted in a disappointing finish. Instead, it ended with him in smiles hugging former teammates after the win.
At times Norman’s play has been solid. But the Redskins paid for more than that; they wanted game-changing plays and, finally, received some.
Tight end Greg Olsen officially is listed as questionable, but coach Ron Rivera said the three-time Pro Bowler is on target to return only five weeks and three games after re-fracturing the right foot that sidelined him for nine games last season.
“As of right now, yes,” Rivera said Friday, indicating Olsen would start if there are no signs of a setback on Saturday or Sunday morning.
Rivera said Olsen took more reps than normal Friday, the first time rain hasn’t been a factor at practice this week, to test the foot.
“He ran around really well, so we’re pretty excited about it,” Rivera said.
Nobody is more excited than Newton to have Olsen back.
“The band is back,” Newton said earlier in the week, anticipating that the Panthers (3-1) would have Olsen for Sunday’s game at Washington (2-2).
Olsen and Newton were the most prolific quarterback-tight end combination in the league from 2014 to 2016. During that span, Olsen became the first tight end in NFL history to record three consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons.
New offensive coordinator Norv Turner looks forward to finally having Olsen back in the mix after he suffered the injury in the first quarter of the opener — Olsen’s first game in Turner’s system.
“It adds a player that Cam is very comfortable with,” Turner said. “He will draw more attention, so it should help other guys get coverages that are friendly to them.”
Olsen avoided a longer rehab this season because the screw that was surgically implanted last year kept the bone from completely breaking again.
Since there was not another surgery and no lengthy time away recovering, Olsen has been able to maintain his conditioning and quickly go from a walking boot to no boot at all. He expects to be ready to contribute faster on this return than he did a year ago.
“I’m confident I’ll be better when I first come back and play a game than I was those first couple of games when I came back last year,” Olsen said.
Olsen had one catch on five targets for 10 yards in his first two games back a year ago. He finally looked like Newton’s favorite target in his third game, catching nine passes on 12 targets for 116 yards and a touchdown against Green Bay.
Olsen had eight catches on 12 targets for 107 yards and a touchdown in a first-round playoff loss to New Orleans.
Newton joked that he was going to ask his grandmother to pray for Olsen to remain healthy.
“Big shout out to Hattie Lou Newton,” the 2015 NFL MVP said. “They always used to say, if you’ve got a praying grandmother … I really do. He means a lot to our team as TD [Thomas Davis] means to the defense. He’s a very intellectual person that helps me out with the playcalling.
“I call him ‘the dictator’ in the huddle.”
Davis will be playing for the first time this season after being suspended the first four games for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
Newton is glad to have Carolina’s defensive leader return, as well.
“It goes without saying how much he means to this team,” Newton said of 34-year-old Davis. “A captain, a hard worker who sets the tempo. It looks like we’re peaking at the right time.”
ASHBURN, Virginia — Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman is back where he’s comfortable: dealing with critics. In the past week they’ve called him the team’s third-best corner and also someone focused on celebrity who has gone Hollywood.
They watched him get benched for the start of the second half in Monday’s 43-19 loss to the New Orleans Saints after blowing a coverage for a long touchdown in the second quarter.
“I’m a target, man. I am. I’m a hot button. You press it, you’re going to get a ring,” Norman said. “It comes with the territory.”
Norman also had words with Saints receiver Michael Thomas during the game and on social media afterward. But there was also criticism from former teammate DeAngelo Hall, who said Monday on 106.7 The Fan that “Josh, I think, is in love with being a celebrity right now and not necessarily being a football player.”
Norman appeared on “Dancing With the Stars” in the spring, commuting during the OTA sessions — but making each practice. He told Yahoo! Sports earlier this week about his post-football plans to become an actor. During the Redskins’ bye week, Norman flew to California to take part in pre-production work for a sitcom called “Taking ConTroll.”
“I don’t know what to say. I seen a little bit of what he said with Hollywood and I can say that’s true — I have went Hollywood,” Norman said. “I’ve been Hollywood. Ever since I came out my mama’s womb, I’ve been Hollywood. If they went right, I went left. That’s just how we did. When the lights came on, that’s just who we are.”
Norman has appeared on Fox’s pregame show at various times since arriving in Washington, such as during a bye week. There were questions at the time about how it might affect his play. For Norman, he views these opportunities as preparing for life after football.
“When it’s football time, I’m going to do football,” he said. “I’m going to be indulged in that. That is what we do. That’s who we are. We work at that. We didn’t get here by mistake. But outside of football? You’re going to tell me I’m just supposed to do football outside of football? Or can I do something else? I don’t know. I mean, I don’t know if I’m supposed to live my life with a football helmet on when I retire from football.”
Norman said he does these things because he can.
“A lot of people can’t. So they don’t. Or they’re afraid. But I’m not, because I’m totally different from people,” Norman said. “And if I’m different and if I feel like I want to do something, I’m going to do that. If you call that Hollywood, so be it. Guess what? I’ll get my check from Hollywood. And I’ll come back and I’ll play ball. That’s just what we do. I mean, I look at those things and I have to take into consideration, man, what’s important to me. And this is first and foremost. This is first love, man. It’s God, family and football. Nothing more, nothing less. And what I do outside of that is my extracurricular activities.”
Norman became the NFL’s highest-paid corner when he signed a five-year, $75-million deal with Washington in the 2016 offseason. He has been a solid player for the Redskins, but he hasn’t intercepted a pass since Week 16 of the 2016 season and has two forced fumbles since the start of 2017. He counts more than any other cornerback against the salary cap this season at $16.737 million.
Norman played with Hall in 2016 and ’17 and said the former corner/safety helped recruit him to Washington.
“D-Hall he called me when I was coming from the Panthers and he spoke to me and was like, ‘Come on JNo. Come over here, we’ve got everything set up,'” Norman said. “And it was crazy because, OK, I took the visit and the visit, I was on the plane with D-Hall. Brought me up, excited. We even did it, an interview as soon as I got here. I mean I looked up to D-Hall. I really do. I still do. I mean his kids looked up to me and I looked up to him. I just heard that and it was kind of like when a microphone is in your face after you leave here, I guess that song is true. ‘Your smiling faces.'”
That song was called Back Stabbers by the O’Jays.
“I respect him and all he’s done for this organization,” Norman said of Hall. “Like I told you, I’m a hot button. If you’re going to press it, you’re going to get something out of it.”
“I’ve been Hollywood. Ever since I came out my mama’s womb, I’ve been Hollywood. If they went right, I went left. That’s just how we did. When the lights came on, that’s just who we are.”
Redskins CB Josh Norman
Meanwhile, former Redskins general manager Charley Casserly, now an NFL Network analyst, said Norman was the team’s third-best corner behind Quinton Dunbar and Fabian Moreau. But it’s a sentiment shared by some in the organization, according to sources.
“If I am the third-best corner, guess what? I’m pretty sure those guys are going to be great,” Norman said. “Those other two. I’m pumping up for them, I’m excited for what they are and what they can do and their abilities. If I’m slacking and if I’m that way, then guess what? Those guys, hey man, we’re going to be a great football team. We’re going to be a great secondary because I know what I can bring to the table. I know what those guys bring to the table.”
“Well, the biggest thing about Josh that we really appreciated was his work ethic first of all,” coach Ron Rivera said. “He works as hard as anybody I’ve been around. Secondly, it’s his personality. We had a little thing going during that Super Bowl run. I told the guys ‘hey look, keep your personality, be who you are but play within our core values’. And that was Josh. He kept his personality. He did the things that made Josh, Josh.”
Earlier Wednesday on 102.5 The Fan in Charlotte, Norman went over his decision to tweet at Thomas. He later deleted the tweets.
“It was just like, do I even send this, like, do I even give this life?” Norman said. “And then I went to that Kanye West sunken place and I said, ‘You know what, we’re going to do it, just make our self feel a little bit better about this whole situation.’ So we did, and I looked at it, whatever. I woke up [Tuesday] morning and took a shower and I just felt great, and looking at our record right now in the NFC East, we’re No. 1 in our division. We’ve got so much life left, 12 weeks, to let this one thing get to us? No, man. We’re so much bigger, our life is so much bigger than that, to give someone life. . . . That’s kind of how that went down. It was a waste of my time.”
An MRI backed up running back Adrian Peterson’s confidence that he wouldn’t miss any time for the Washington Redskins with a shoulder injury, a source said Tuesday night.
Peterson was injured late in the first half of Monday night’s 43-19 loss at the New Orleans Saints, leaving him on the bench for all but two offensive snaps in the second half. But the MRI showed no further damage.
Peterson twice said after Monday’s contest that he had dislocated his shoulder at the end of a catch-and-run, telling reporters he had popped it back into place. Washington coach Jay Gruden had called it a strained shoulder.
Peterson carried four times for six yards and caught two passes for 36 yards in Monday’s defeat. For the season, he has 242 yards rushing on 60 carries.
They exited the 43-19 loss to New Orleans in silence, with a much different vibe, one that suggests this week and their next game against Carolina has turned into a crucial one for the franchise.
“Our whole team played poorly,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “That’s a reflection of myself. I think everybody in that locker room, hopefully, will say that they have to play better. I absolutely understand that coaches on this staff have to coach better.”
It’s not just about winning and contending in an NFC East that doesn’t look quite as tough as everyone thought it would be this season. At 2-2, the Redskins are in first place in the division, but with 12 games left, that’s meaningless. It’s about letting everyone know what’s acceptable. And their showing was anything but, coming off a bye, this is what they produced. It’s about continuing patterns for way too long for a starved fan base. Win games, get hopes up, suffer ugly loss.
It’s hard to imagine or remember a worse loss in the coach Jay Gruden era; not just by margin of victory, but for the team’s utter incompetence. They botched coverages — this continues a trend that shows no signs of ending — that led to two pass plays of at least 46 yards. They didn’t even throw to their best target, tight end Jordan Reed, until 5 minutes, 27 seconds remained in the third quarter. They committed dumb penalties — safety Montae Nicholson shoved a Saints player after a Ryan Kerrigan sack that would have forced a punt. Instead, it extended a drive that resulted in a touchdown.
After the drive, second-year defensive end Jonathan Allen was apparently getting on his teammates, letting him know their play was unacceptable. It’s great that a second-year guy did this; there needs to be a lot more of it from everyone in the organization, from coaches on down. If there aren’t enough players and coaches tired of the inconsistency, the breakdowns and losses will continue.
Quarterback Alex Smith was shaky all night, getting hit too often and not looking comfortable when he wasn’t being pressured. He missed open targets; he threw short of others. The coaching clearly wasn’t good enough, either. On a night when Drew Brees set the all-time record for passing yards, the Redskins were outclassed in every respect.
It doesn’t help the Redskins fan base that former quarterback Kirk Cousins has played well for Minnesota and former offensive coordinator Sean McVay is 5-0 with the Los Angeles Rams.
Meanwhile, cornerback Josh Norman — the highest paid player at his position — was benched to open the second half. Norman allowed a touchdown pass of 62 yards late in the first half when he appeared to be playing Cover 2 while the other defensive backs were in Cover 3, which would have had him covering deep. Two weeks ago against Green Bay, Norman did not play a quarters coverage properly, leading to another long score.
Monday, Norman was on the bench for the first series — only to watch rookie replacement Greg Stroman allow a 35-yard touchdown pass.
“There was an issue there,” Gruden said of Norman’s play late in the first half. “That’s one of the issues we’re talking about and that’s something that we have to get corrected. That can’t happen in pro football. You don’t see that happen in pro football. We’re together too long. We run the same coverage for too many times. We’ve got to coach that better. We’ve got to make sure that never happens again. That’s an absolute embarrassment.”
Norman said, “Coverage, man. We was blowing it all night. … As a fiery competitor you never want to come off, but whatever. I’ll roll with that because that’s the chain of command. He’s in charge. … End of the day I respect the head man and I’ve got to honor that and truly buy into what he wants.”
The Redskins finished the first quarter of the season with a 2-2 record. In this league, what looks true one week doesn’t always play out that way the next. The Redskins lost 44-16 in 2015 to Carolina only to win the following week — and eventually capture the NFC East. But it’ll be hard to shake the stink from this one; it’s probably good the Redskins have a short week.
The Redskins are 14-6-1 after a loss under Gruden. Washington has been resilient under him and that trait must reveal itself once more.
“It’s on to the next,” Redskins running back Adrian Peterson said. “This game doesn’t define our season. We just completed our first quarter of the season 2-2. It’s not bad at all. We’ll lick our wounds. … This is part of the NFL. It’s all about how you bounce back from adversity.”
The severity of Ginn’s injury is unknown. He played through a knee injury in recent weeks despite being limited in some practices, but then he didn’t practice at all this week. The Saints (3-1) have a bye in Week 6, which gives him extra time to heal.
Ginn, who is used often as a deep threat, has 12 catches for 135 yards and two touchdowns this season. He ranks second among Saints receivers behind Michael Thomas in every category, though running back Alvin Kamara and tight end Benjamin Watson have more catches and yards.
Smith, a third-round pick from Central Florida, could potentially run downfield routes in Ginn’s place. The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder showed some big-play ability throughout training camp and the preseason, but he has just one catch for 18 yards so far this season.
Meredith, meanwhile, has gradually worked his way into the offense after recovering from a knee injury suffered in 2017, when he was with the Chicago Bears. He was inactive for the first two games this season. Then he caught four passes for 43 yards and a touchdown over the past two weeks.
Meredith (6-3, 207) could be used both in the slot and on the outside. Second-year pro Austin Carr is also an option in the slot.
The Saints’ healthy pass-catchers could be part of history on Monday night when New Orleans hosts the Washington Redskins. Drew Brees is just 201 yards away from passing Peyton Manning as the NFL’s all-time passing yardage leader.
Washington, however, ranks among the NFL’s top three defenses in total yards, passing yards and points allowed per game.
The Saints also released running back Mike Gillislee and officially activated running back Mark Ingram following his four-game suspension.
New Orleans signed Gillislee in Week 1 after he was released by the New England Patriots, but he carried the ball just 16 times for 43 yards with one catch for 9 yards, no touchdowns and one lost fumble.
In their 31-17 victory over Green Bay, the Redskins ditched a typical defensive-line rotation and used two players almost exclusively. For years the Redskins — like virtually all NFL teams — have rotated players along their defensive line, using five throughout the game. That’s what they did in the first two games as well.
But with a week off on the horizon following Sunday’s game, Allen, their 2017 first-round pick, played 65 of the 69 snaps. Payne, their first-round pick in April, was on the field for 64.
Only two other teams had two linemen play at least 90 percent of the snaps last week: the Cleveland Browns and Los Angeles Rams. The Rams, of course, have Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh, two of the best linemen in the game. The Redskins were the only team that played only three linemen in a game.
That’s why, going forward, this could become more the norm for Washington, which ranks second in both yards and points allowed per game.
“Those two guys are special guys and they need to be on the field,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “We have some other guys that can play without a doubt, but those two guys are first-rounders and very talented, so the more they play, the better they get. We’ll still work in a rotation from time to time, but for the most part, those two guys will be out there when they are healthy.”
On Sunday, backups Ziggy Hood and Tim Settle dressed but didn’t participate in any plays from scrimmage. Matt Ioannidis played 26 percent of the snaps (18) against the Packers. In the first two weeks, he had played 51 and 61 percent. Ioannidis plays left end in their base, three-man front.
“We wanted to get them going,” Gruden said of Payne and Allen. “The first couple games we had a rotation going and trying to get their feet wet together, especially Daron, but he showed that he can handle the reps. We didn’t draft him in the first round to sit by me. We wanted him to play as much as possible.”
Payne, who had his first NFL sack Sunday, doesn’t like to talk much; Allen talks as if he’s a 10-year veteran, showing poise and wisdom not often seen in second-year players. When it comes to their roles, they just do their jobs. Perhaps that’s what playing at Alabama, along a defensive front always stocked with NFL talent, did for them.
Regardless, they did not show signs of tiring in the fourth quarter, when they sat a combined four snaps.
On one play in the fourth quarter, Payne and Allen ran a stunt. Payne drove his man back and Allen forced Rodgers to move to his right. He threw the ball to Ty Montgomery in the right flat, about 15 yards from where Payne was finished rushing. Yet the rookie turned and sprinted toward the ball, continuing to chase him as he cut back across the field — going from one sideline to the other.
Late in the game, on Allen’s 64th snap, he ran a stunt with linebacker Preston Smith, moved the guard upfield, spun inside and sacked Rodgers — his second of the game.
“The D-line was relentless,” Redskins corner Josh Norman said. “They were able to affect [Rodgers] in a way in which he hasn’t been affected this season.”
The Redskins like how both of these linemen play in their nickel, with an ability to maintain gaps to help linebackers defend the run. At times, the linemen lose their battles. Usually, though, they draw double-teams or hold their ground; then it’s up to those behind them to make plays or close off cutback lanes quicker. That hasn’t always happened, which is why the Redskins rank 28th defending the run out of nickel at 6.89 yards per carry.
But Allen and Payne also enable Washington to pressure with four more often than not. When the Redskins rush four defenders, they’re giving up only 5.41 yards per pass attempt — second lowest in the NFL. Overall, they’re still second at 5.46 yards per attempt.
A lot of their hope on defense, and their success, lies with Payne and Allen.
“I was impressed with the way he and Jonathan played, not only at the start of the game, but at the end,” Gruden said. “They were flying to the football. They were making plays downfield, in the pocket, in the running game. The vision that we had when we drafted them, getting Jonathan and Daron together, came to fruition [Sunday].”