CHARLOTTE - Cornerback Josh Norman, who opened the month and closed the month with game-changing plays of a highlight-worthy nature, has been named NFC Defensive Player of the Month.
"It feels pretty good to be rewarded for your hard work and the time you put it into it," Norman said.
An interception by Norman last week against New Orleans and in Week 1 against Jacksonville were arguably the most pivotal plays in each of those games. In between, Norman held Houston Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins to half the production he's enjoyed in his other two games.
Sunday, with the Saints driving toward what could have been a game-winning touchdown in the final minutes, Norman extended for a remarkable interception in the end zone that preserved a 27-22 victory.
Early in the second half of the season opener at Jacksonville, with the Panthers clinging to a 10-9 lead and dealing with the departure of linebacker Luke Kuechly with a concussion, Norman broke on Blake Bortles pass and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown to key a 20-9 victory. Norman also forced a fumble and made the recovery earlier in the game.
Hopkins, one of the top young receivers in the league, mustered just five catches for 53 yards against Norman and Co. In his other two games, Hopkins has totaled 17 catches for 199 yards and three touchdowns.
"His level of play is very good right now. He's playing with a lot of confidence," head coach Ron Rivera said. "The young man has matured and is a solid player in this league. He deserves the recognition and I'm very happy for him."
Norman is the 10th Panthers defensive player to earn the honor but the first defensive back. Linebackers Thomas Davis, Sam Mills and Jon Beason won the award a combined four times, and defensive ends Julius Peppers and Mike Rucker won it a combined five times.
View photos from the Panthers' week of practice leading up to their game versus the Buccaneers.