CHARLOTTE – The NFL's leading receiver against the NFL's top cornerback?
That sounds like a matchup that would get a few people excited – none more so than Josh Norman himself, the man tasked with slowing down Falcons wideout Julio Jones on Sunday.
"I can't be more excited about this matchup," Norman said. "They've got No. 11 over there. And Carolina's got me. We're going to have some fun with it."
Last year, when he was beginning to burst onto the scene as one of the league's best corners, Norman rose to the challenge against Jones, keeping him out of the end zone and limiting him to seven catches on 14 targets in the two meetings.
"I think with his game he can kind of do it all," Jones said of Norman in a conference call. "He can be physical, he can drop back, he can cover very well, he can do all those things. That's what makes him good.
"He comes with great energy, He's a great player. I'm just looking forward to just going out there and competing. I know he's going to come to play, and I will too."
This year, Norman thrust himself into the NFL Defensive Player of the Year conversation after recording four interceptions in the first four games. Offenses have been wary of throwing his direction ever since.
Norman fully expects that to change Sunday. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is targeting Jones just over 13 times per game.
"We are about to be active," Norman said with a smile. "I think they are going to activate (like) where I started in the first couple games of the season."
Of course Norman likes the action. But he's most looking forward to running stride for stride with arguably the most complete wide receiver in football.
"I like to see the best, period," said Norman, who characterized Jones as a 'manimal.'
"I like to see what that's looking like. I like to compare myself to that competition level. Julio is a guy where I am pretty sure I am going to have my work cut out for me."
LAST TIME THEY PLAYED