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Opposing View: Panthers at Redskins

Redskins cornerback Josh Norman

On how much he is looking forward to the game against the Panthers on Monday Night Football:"Just as much as I'm looking forward to being Santa Claus. My teammates."

On what kind of gifts Santa Claus is going to deliver to the Panthers:"I don't know, man. Maybe some Boss robes, I don't know. But, at the same token, we're going to try to go out here and do our thing. There's no merit in that, there's no victories or no morals in sight, just going out here and doing what our job entails."

On if he remembers wide receiver Steve Smith's emotions from his first game playing against the Panthers and if he learned anything from that and how he channeled them:"Yeah, I think he said something about how he was going to go off or they expected him to, but he didn't. He just did his thing, quietly. I don't know, I've got a different outlook."

On if he can't hold his tongue:"Can't hold my tongue? I don't know if you want to say that much. I will say this though, you guys know me better than I think anyone else, and you should know how this is going to go down, so."

On how it's going to "go down":"I don't know, man. I'm pretty sure you guys know. Trying to fish for something. I've gotten better at this. I've gotten better at it."

On if he thinks the Panthers would be a winning team right now if he had stayed:"Well, you know what, my whole philosophy in whatever I do is winning. And if we're not winning, we're losing. And I'm not a loser, so we'll find something or some kind of way to get something fixed. I know I can't be everybody or be there in those times, but I know one thing - I'm not going to sit there and lie down and die. I'm going to come out fighting, and I'm going to fight somebody else just to try to get a win if I have to. Whatever it is, I'm going to touch somebody else and that initially is going to touch that person and is going to follow on and follow on. I feel as if no matter where I was at, if I was there, or here, it's going to touch somebody and somebody's going to get it into their system and then that's going to make them want to defeat the person across from them. Whether you want to or not, shoot, we're going to talk this thing out. I don't know what they've got going on this year, but I do know that we've got to be, you know, I know how I am as a person and caliber player I bring to any team, so I would think it would be different. Definitely so."

On if he can expand on the point about the atmosphere and how the Panthers seemed like a buttoned-up organization:"You know, nothing is wrong with how they do things over there and the system of how everything is kind of, buttoned up. I think you put it perfectly. Buttoned up. Over here, it seems as if I can button my collar down a little bit, you know? And nothing is wrong with that either. It's to each is whom, you know, you prescribe. It's what you like. It's what you have there and that mandating of state. But for me, I like to be out, like I'm free, I'm carefree. I like to do things differently, but I do have a sense of respect and I do have a sense of honor and dignity and to the point where I do listen to my superiors. I don't break rank. I used to, but I got broken out of that. That's what I learned there is that discipline. You've got to have discipline and that's a disciplined organization and team, and I learned that from them and I am grateful for that. So, I don't take that as any kind of knock against them, it's just when I got here, I can probably show what I learned there here and be freely about it and be open about it. And that's a good thing too. So, you've got to take the best of both worlds and try to look at them in a positive and not so much a negative light."

On if there is one thing he learned from Coach Ron Rivera and Coach Steve Wilks that made him a better player that he has taken with him to Washington:"Yeah. Man, Wilks pretty much taught me the importance of using your tools. Pretty much gave me my tool belt. When you look at Batman and his whole little belt, banner he's got around his little stomach, Wilks gave me my first tool belt, so I've got to give him credit for that. They showed me how to use different techniques and different tools that I can switch up on and use on an offensive guy if he so much threatens me and I've got to give him credit for that. Coach Rivera, it was rocky at first. Very much so rocky. I was in his doghouse, which I don't understand why I was there. But he came out later and he told me about it and I kind of had to hold myself and look at it and be like, shoot, I can only control what I can control and that's my work ethic. I can't control anything else. I can't control the guy that's in front of me or behind me. I can't control that. The only thing I can do is be who I am. And I did that and I worked. And then Coach Rivera finally saw fit to put me in the game one day, he told me not to come back out and ever since then, I never left the starting lineup.  From that point on, our relationship started to grow, he started to trust me more and then we had that conversation that really opened my eyes and I was just like, 'Wow. Okay, like, I forgive you and we can move on from this.' And we've been cool ever since. It was just knowing that and understanding and seeing his personality and letting him be who I am, there it was just like peas and the carrots." On if his fight with quarterback Cam Newton helped their relationship:"I think it was. I really do because we were both at the top of our games and the top level of perfection. It was the hot heat of Spartanburg, man – them bugs were out there raging. We got together and we were just fighting hard. On the defensive side, Thomas Davis was like, 'Make a stop!' The offense was kicking our butt a good bit and Cam was out there going around doing cartwheels and high kicks and all kind of stupid stuff and making fun of our defense. We just locked down like, look man, 'this crap is not about to happen. So we come up there and we get into a man-on-man situation and I go inside and get on one of the wide receivers and he threw a strike to him. I just undercut it and intercepted it and I went back to the house with it. I saw him and I just gave him a nice little stiff arm and he tried to tackle me. I got into the end zone and he started talking and I was like, 'Hold up. Who do you think you're talking to?' I know I was in my mind so I was like in a game-type situation. That's kind of how I got amped up. We just went at it. Next thing I know, the offensive line just came and dog-piled me. I was like, 'Dang, where are my defensive guys at?' They started pulling me off. I was still hot. I was so hot to the point where I just started crying I think and then I just tried to get over it. We all came up and huddled up and Coach was like, 'We don't want to see that but we do want to see that because we know we're fighting for each other. We know we're going out here and giving it 110 percent, max effort.' Then I think when we got to the showers, he told me, 'Look man, we may have a fight every day but guess what? We're going to make the best out of each other.' And you know, I could respect that. I really could. I think after that, we got ready to go see a movie and then I took a picture and then everybody knew everything was cool because that thing got blown up out of proportion. It was just one of those things where I never did back down, I don't care if you have a red jersey on or not. I'm going to fight just has hard as you are to defend what's mine. He did the same thing and I think we both saw that and I think it touched not only us, but the rest of our teammates and it got something in them. Then we went on a crazy run, man."

On if he thinks Newton will challenge him on Monday night:"Do I? What kind of a question is that? Look, Cam cannot stay away from a challenge, just as much as I can't stay away from a challenge. For you to sit up here and say is he going to challenge me, that's not even a question. I just hope when he does, I am so ready for a challenge myself. So I can't wait for it."

How his horse, Delta, is doing: "Delta is being Delta. Same old, big Clydes 747. High stepping, catching the wind."

On Newton being benched in the Seattle game for not wearing a tie:"Coach Rivera – everybody is the same. Nobody is different. I mean shoot, that's the type of stern discipline they have there. You've got to be suited and booted. I'm still that way today. You're not going to catch me without a tie going on a road trip even though we have a lax dress code. I still am doing that because I still have thoughts – shirt and tie and a jacket. I don't wear nothing else. I still kind of have that in my head too. So I still kind of wear ties even though I don't have to. So it's no big deal. I think everybody else blew it out of proportion than it should be. Coach Rivera always had that rule in his whole coaching staff. So I don't see anything wrong with that. I don't know. I'm not there so I can't be that guy."**


Redskins head coach Jay Gruden

On the storyline in Washington:"Well, we are trying to win a game on Monday Night Football. You know, keep us alive for these playoffs, that is the most important thing. It's a huge game for us, without a doubt. We're focusing on the Carolina Panthers and what we can do to put our team in the best position to win and that's it. Figure out a way to stop Cam (Newton), unlike last time we played them."

On watching tape from last year's game:"Oh we look at it. You know, without a doubt. You know, it's in our folders, and in our cutups, and we like to look at…you know, if you play a team, even though it was a year ago, you like to look at them, see how they prepared for us, see what they did to us  to try to stop us, and offensively, defensively see how they attacked us. You know, see what Cam did, all that stuff has been official. There's been changes to both teams on both sides of the ball. But still, schematically, I think there are some things that you can take from it."

On cornerback Josh Norman's impact on Washington's defense:"He's obviously a great player and he brings a certain type of attitude to us, to our defense that is like no other. You know, he's got a great intensity to him, he loves football, he has a great passion for the game, and that rubs off on people in a positive way in my opinion. Very ultra-competitive. I don't think we've seen a guy like him that is as competitive and as focused as he is on game day. And it's been great, especially for the young guys, and veterans alike quite frankly."

On quarterback Kirk Cousin's season so far:"I'd say solid, really. From a statistic standpoint, I think he's top of league in a lot of different categories. You know, yards, completion percentage, big plays. I think we got the most 30-yard gains in the league. He's doing a lot of great things, without a doubt. I think if there is something we are struggling with offensively, I would say the red zone. Third down percentage is pretty good, but when we get down in the 20, for whatever reason, we just not as productive as we would like to be. As far as Kirk is concerned, you don't put that all on the quarterback. I think he's had an excellent year. He's put us in position to win games. He's gone through his progressions. He's gotten everyone involved in the offense. You know, really, I think you look at our receiver's stats. Look at Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis, look at our running backs in the backfield, Desean (Jackson), Jamison Crowder, Pierre (Garçon); they are all getting their touches and he's spreading the wealth."

On wide receiver Jamison Crowder's impact on the offense:"Unbelievable man, he is just a great player. He wins in man coverage, he's great in zone, he's tough, he's helped our special teams; I think he's leading the league in punt return average. He might be first or second in that regard. He's an excellent blocker. You saw last week on Rob Kelly's touchdown he flattened one of the corners. He's just a tough, all-around good football player, but we are very fortunate to have. But I think as his career….in the next year and the year after that, you'll see him more outside and not just relegated to the slot because he can do it all."

On the difference of Newton between this year and last year:"Well, I don't know. Number one, they've that much shuffling as the offensive line is concerned, and that can have an impact on a quarterback. You know, I think when you are shuffling in centers especially. We've gone three that last year, we lost our starting center and playing with our backup center, and we moved our guard to center and it's hard. The communication with your offensive line, you're moving your right tackle to left tackle, and then you lose a guard. You know, it's just hard when you are messing around with all that offensive Line chemistry, because it's the most important part of an offense. Everybody wants to talk about the offense, the quarterback and all that stuff, but the offensive line really what makes everything tick. And when you start having those changes, it affects the quarterback a little bit, just from a communications standpoint, the snap count, all the little things. I think that's had a little bit impact on him, but you still see the unbelievable talent that he has, his ability to escape pressure, his ability to run the ball between the tackles when asked to, his ability to do the zone read, throw the bomb, that throw he had against Oakland to Ted Ginn Jr. when he throws it off his back foot and it went like 70 yards in the air, just strikes fear in everybody's eyes. Obviously he still has a wealth of talent. His numbers aren't what they were last year, but it's going to be hard to duplicate those numbers, because they were unbelievable. NFL MVP numbers are hard to duplicate year in and year out. But he still is a very talented guy without a doubt."

His thoughts on defensive end Mario Addison:"He's pretty tough. He can hit you a lot of different ways. He does a good job of getting off on the snap count number one but he's got some power to him. He can beat you off the edge. He's got a great versatility in his rush. He's not a one-trick pony. Sometimes you get guys that are just blazing off the edge, you might be able to overset them a little bit. Sometimes you have guys that have power but he's got a great combination of both and he's done a great job for them."

On his first impression of Norman:"My first impression of him was he was a very confident person, very sure of his abilities, which you like to see that from a corner. You don't like to see corners that aren't quite sure of their talent level. He's very confident and I did a lot work on him. You know, we didn't just sign him and said, 'This is Josh Norman. He's very popular. Let's sign this guy.' We watched a lot of tape on him. The general manager, the scouts, myself, obviously we play them so I knew a lot about him and his playmaking ability. Everything about his personality was backed up by his play. He's a physical player, he can tackle. He changes games with the turnovers, the ability to force fumbles and to get interceptions. And then when you meet him for the first time, he just has an air about him with the confidence that you want to have in a corner."

On if he thinks Norman has something to prove in this matchup:"He's proved a lot in his young career. I think he's always out to prove something. That's what makes him great. As soon as you think he's made it, you become a great corner and you can be like everybody else. But what makes him great is his ability to want to prove himself, not just on game day, but he does it every day in practice. He wants to prove himself. He loves going up against Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson when we do one-on-ones and challenge him and prep him and competing. HE stays after practice to get some work in. He's one of the first ones in the meeting rooms. So he's always out to prove himself and that's what's going to make him great for a long time."

On if he was surprised a player like Norman became available in free agency:"A little bit but this is pro football. Players like this become free agents, quite frankly, especially when you have a team like Carolina had last year. They go to the Super Bowl and have a lot of players that they have to take care of. Obviously with salary caps and all of that stuff, you have to make tough decisions. I don't know why they did it but I'm sure they have their reasons. But we're very fortunate to get an excellent player."

On the week the Redskins signed Norman:"We watched him a lot. Like I said, I've studied Norman. When we play an opponent, we do a lot of work on that team and we do a lot of work on Josh and the rest of the defenses that we play. We know a lot about him and we knew a lot about him once we got the tapes running and singled him out and watched him quite a bit. We had a great familiarity with him as a player. I think once we got him in here, getting to know him as a person is the key to see if he fit in with the guys and that stuff. We realized that wouldn't be a problem. Then obviously it was our financial people getting down with his financial people to get a deal done."

On the importance of letting Norman be himself:"I think every player that we have and every player in the NFL is different. They have their own personalities. You can't put handcuffs on all these guys and expect them to be perfect all over the place. Josh is a very good person. Like I said, he is a great worker, he prepares, he studies. He practices hard. He has never missed a practice, never missing a meeting, even OTAs when he signed the deal, he could have gone on vacation for four weeks or what have you but he was one of the first ones in here and never missed a day. So as far as his "free spirit" or whatever, I don't know what he does when he's out of this building, but I know what he's like when he's here, a very accountable player and a very hard worker."

On the improvement in the Panthers' pass rush:"I think they can hit you in a number of ways. They do a great job schematically. They have some blitzes that they can get home with. They bring different people -- they can bring inside people, they can bring the outside people, they can bring corners, they can bring safeties. They have their blitz packages where they are lined up in the A gaps and lined up in the B gaps. They give you a lot of different looks – odd fronts, even fronts, a lot of different fronts that confuse you but at the end of the day, they could rush four guys and also play coverage and get home. I think with the improvement of their young corners, you've seen their pass rush get better and better. It's a good young football team with some very talented players."

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