SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Cornerbacks capable of holding their own against the top receivers in the NFL are hard to find. Josh Norman knows that as well as anyone.
"Cornerbacks in this league are at a premium," Norman said. "You've got to see the receivers that we go against. To control and stop that – we don't have that many. Probably 10 of us, maybe less than that, can handle guys like the Julios (Julio Jones), the Bryants (Dez Bryant), the Megatrons (Calvin Johnson).
"It's a hard job, but somebody's got to do it."
After a few years of learning and growing on the job, Norman took his game to another level toward the end of the 2014 season. Now, what was once considered a "no-name" secondary appears to have a rising star.
"I'm not a no-name," Norman said. "I know who I am. I'm Josh Norman. I know what I've done, I know where I've come from."
Where will he go from here? The arrow certainly seems to be pointing up for Norman.
"Josh is a good player. He's still developing, he's still growing," assistant head coach/secondary Steve Wilks said. "The one thing he does have is a lot of confidence, and you need that at the corner position. As he continues to lock in and be focused, in time he can prove that he's one of the better corners in the league."
This is the final year of Norman's contract, so questions about his long-term status have begun. When asked if he thinks Norman will be in Carolina long term, Wilks replied, "I hope so."
Said Norman: "I'm just going to play hard and play to the best of my abilities. Mr. (Dave) Gettleman and his staff, they are very formal in what they do. I know myself – outside the field and then on the field are two different people. I know that, I understand that and I accept that. I have to separate the two. I'm not concerned about it. I'm not worried about it.
"I'm going to go out and do what I have to do to help us win – bottom line."
As for where Norman wants to be beyond 2015, the answer is clear.
"I want to be in Carolina," said Norman, a South Carolina native who starred at Coastal Carolina. "I've been here all my life. Why would I want to go anywhere else or change that? I love it here."