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After Late Switch To Dez Bryant, Josh Norman's Next Task Enters Spotlight


The Redskins elected to move Josh Norman to Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant last Sunday. With Odell Beckham Jr. up next, will Norman travel with him too?

As the Washington Redskins entered the fourth quarter of Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys, the coaching staff opted to move Josh Norman onto Dez Bryant wherever the star wide receiver went.

It was a move that was made on the fly, but one that held Bryant mostly in check, as he had just one reception for 21 yards in the fourth quarter after having six catches for 81 yards in the first three quarters.

"He moved around a little bit," Redskins coach Jay Gruden said of Norman. "I feel good about our corners. We just have to get the defense fixed up. Too many guys were wide open. Easy throws and catches. We got to challenge them, push them, play a little more coverage."

Through the first seven quarters of the season, Norman held down the left side of the field with counterpart Bashaud Breeland manning the right side. But with Norman's playmaking ability – he forced a fumble in the third quarter -- and proven track record of success against some of the top wide receivers in the game, the Redskins decided that having Norman opposite of Bryant was for the better.

"You know what, if the coaches ask me to something I'll do it to the full extent of my abilities," Norman said. "I'll get the job done and execute flawlessly and that's what I went out there and did. It sucks that we came up a little short. At the end of the day, we take solace and understand that God gives us these challenges and see if we can overcome them and be stronger from it. Of course we're going to get back out there."

His excellent debut with the Redskins has also given him a high rating from Pro Football Focus, which currently has him at a 91.6 overall grade, nearly four points higher than his All-Pro season with the Carolina Panthers last year.

What isn't known yet, though, is exactly how Norman will be used against the New York Giants on Sunday.

Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman has been voted the 11th best player on the NFL's "Top 100 Players of 2016" list.

Yes, Norman has a past with New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., but the 2015 second-team All-Pro wide receiver isn't the only productive wide receiver for the Redskins' NFC East rivals anymore.

Rookie wide receiver Sterling Shephard, a second-round pick out of Oklahoma, scored a touchdown in his regular season debut against the Cowboys and followed it up with an eight-catch, 117-yard performance against the New Orleans Saints.

Victor Cruz, meanwhile, has returned from a lengthy absence to record eight receptions for 125 yards and a touchdown so far this season.

Whether or not Beckham Jr. is his primary coverage assignment, Norman will be "fired up either way" because he's best in crunch time.

'That's kind of how I elevate the game," Norman said. "Play with me. Come at me. I get excited for those games and those periods. That's when I evolve into something else. I really do get up for those moments. When you're back is against the wall. How are you going to come out? Are you going to fight or are you going to hit your head and I'm coming out stretching. When you come out and make a victorious play, there's nothing like it. There really isn't."

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