The Washington Commanders have shored up their offensive line by signing former Jaguars and Panthers guard Andrew Norwell. Here are five things to know about the newest member of the roster.
1. Ron Rivera is very aware of his skillset.
Rivera has a high standard for the players that he chooses to be part of his roster, and he wants to surround himself with players who understand that.
Norwell, who signed as an undrafted free agent for the Panthers when Rivera was leading the team, checks off that box.
"He's still pretty much the same guy," Rivera said of Norwell. "Just a little bit older. Very smart and crafty football player."
The thing that Rivera respects the most about Norwell is that he made a name for himself despite his status as a UDFA. It didn't deter him from being the player he is today, Rivera said. He appeared in 10 games, starting nine, during his rookie season, but after that, he was a mainstay of the Panthers' offensive line with at least 13 starts over the following three seasons.
"He's very stout. He's terrific as a run blocker, and he's protecting very well. His footwork, his technique has been outstanding," Rivera said in 2017. "It's taken a couple of years, but I think (running game coordinator John Matsko) and (offensive line coach Ray Brown) have done a nice job of developing his technique and his style."
On Thursday, Rivera laid out some of Norwell's best traits. He's smart, physical and loyal to his teammates. If anyone wanted to describe a "Rivera player," they would use a lot of those terms. And for Rivera, it's certainly a welcomed reunion.
"It's exciting to have a young man like that on our football team."
2. He's played at a high level for his entire career.
Every player aspires to be consistent, but it's particularly true for an offensive lineman. After all, several positions rely on them to succeed.
That's never been an issue for Norwell.
Norwell is entering his ninth season in the NFL. According to Pro Football Focus, he's never posted a negative grade in that span. While his overall grades did slip slightly with the Jaguars, according to PFF's metrics, when he was playing under Matsko, he never posted a grade below a 75.
Norwell's performance has been anchored by his pass protection. With the Jaguars, he recorded a pass-blocking grade of at least an 80 in two of his four seasons. He also only allowed three sacks in each season.
Washington's offensive line was already solid, and now it's added another player with an impressive resume.
3 He brings a lot of energy.
If you're looking for someone who loves football, Norwell is your person.
Norwell was mic'd up during Week 11 of the 2020 season, and it offered a look into the life of an NFL offensive lineman. There was a lot of grunting and pads popping, but it also showed a lot of how Norwell acts in between plays.
Norwell was energetic from the first snap to the last shown in the video. He cheered on his teammates and looked like he wanted to do nothing more than be on the field with them. It's another indicator that Norwell should fit in well with the Commanders' offensive line and team as a whole.
Check out the video for yourself, HERE.
4. He wants to help block hunger.
There are a few things that Norwell values. Football and his teammates are certainly up there, but creating a healthy environment for children is at the top of his priorities as well. That's why he created the Andrew Norwell Foundation to "block hunger."
"It's just awesome being able to make a difference to children in the community," Norwell told Jaguars.com
The foundation's goal, according to a quote from Norwell on its website, "is to block hunger and ensure children in Florida, Ohio and North Carolina have access to healthy food where they live, and play." The quote also says that Norwell has met several families and children over the course of his career that need access to these resources, and providing better access to them is important to him.
There is an option for those wishing to make a donation, but the website also offers merchandise with all the sales going directly to the foundation. The website currently features Jaguars material, but perhaps there will be some Commanders merchandise included as well. Check out the website, HERE.
5. He created a unique nickname for Ohio State's offensive line.
The term "slob" is mostly known for carrying a negative connotation. That was not the case with Norwell and his fellow offensive linemen at Ohio State. They carried the term as a badge of honor, which seems fitting for an offensive line.
For them, it describes someone who is mean, nasty and works hard.
The nickname came from Norwell himself. He used to draw "goofy pictures and just mash a bunch of animals together," said guard Pat Elflein, and one of them was named a slob.
The name quickly caught on, and soon the entire offensive line at Ohio State was known as a slob.
"A slob isn't what you look like, a slob is how you act, it's what you are, it's what you do," said Chase Farris.
If that's the case, then the Buckeyes' offensive linemen were some of the best slobs in college football while Norwell was part of the group. Ohio State averaged 242.2 rushing yards per game in 2012 and 37.1 points per game. If being a slob is associated with that kind of production, then maybe that's a standard everyone should aspire to reach.