Norman working to validate Redskins' belief in him
ASHBURN, VA. >> Josh Norman didn't need another reminder of his Super Bowl loss. Then new teammate David Bruton Jr. returned to the Washington Redskins' facility.
Bruton missed Monday's workout because he was at the White House with his former Denver Broncos teammates being honored by President Obama.
"I was like: 'Gosh you suck. You really suck,"' said Norman, who started every game last season for the NFC champion Carolina Panthers. "It brought me back to that time. ... It was cool that he got that experience. At least one of us did."
Norman has moved on to life with the Redskins after the Panthers removed the franchise tag in April, making him a free agent. Washington was the first team to get him in for a visit and signed him to a $75 million, five-year contract two days later.
After celebrating the deal with family members and Redskins coaches, Norman was ready to fly home at 10:30 on Friday night, April 22. Before he left, defensive coordinator Joe Barry asked the All-Pro cornerback when he'd be back.
"He was like: 'What are you talking about? I'll be back Sunday night and I'll be in the building 8 o'clock Monday morning to work,"' Barry recalled. "That to me said a lot. He wasn't one of those guys that said, 'Hey, I'll get there when OTAs start.' He was literally there 48 hours later and in the building at 8 o'clock in the morning with his new teammates."
Norman has been in work mode ever since, seeking to validate the Redskins' belief in him. Organized team activities have given him the chance to work alongside Bruton and DeAngelo Hall and against Kirk Cousins, Pierre Garcon and, briefly, DeSean Jackson.
"We know we're going to make each other better," Norman said. "Just got to keep challenging them, and they'll keep challenging us."
Jackson was absent from the final OTA session Wednesday after practicing Monday and Tuesday. Coach Jay Gruden expects Jackson to be on the field for mandatory minicamp next week.
"I was like, 'Dang, this guy,"' Norman said of Jackson. "I called him up and he didn't answer my phone call. It's cool though. To each his own. If doesn't want to be here he (doesn't have) to be here. It's voluntary. That competition's only going to make you better."
Just don't tell Norman that the Panthers' pass rush made him look better than he actually is. Carolina's defense had Kawann Short, Mario Addison, Kony Ealy and Thomas Davis getting to the quarterback, but Norman wants to prove he can be just as effective with the Redskins.
"I'm so excited to be here because it's not that I came from a defensive line that made me who I am," Norman said last week. "I am because I am the guy that you see on the field each and every week trying to be best and trying to be better in my craft."
From the night they first met with him, Redskins' coaches expected Norman to be a hard-working player. Gruden watched plenty of film of Norman but has been most impressed by the 28-year-old's work ethic.
"He's got the skill-set, he's already proven that," Gruden said. "You know about his game-day ability, but what you don't know about is how he is with the other players in the meeting room and on the practice field. So far everything's been outstanding, and I've been thrilled to see him work when the ball is not on his side and he's in the meeting rooms and all that. He's been a pleasure to be around and he's going to help us out a lot, no question."
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