Redskins.com's Stephen Czarda provides five takeaways from Josh Norman's press conference at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center in Richmond, Va.
1. Entering his second season with the Redskins, Norman is ready to build on his legacy in Washington.
Even though Norman had already been on the Redskins for a few months prior to his Richmond training camp debut last year, he was still adjusting to his new surroundings.
For four years, Norman was at home with the Carolina Panthers. But last April, the All-Pro cornerback had his franchise tag with the franchise rescinded. He was immediately free to sign with any team before visiting only the Redskins and then signing on the dotted line.
In his first season in Washington, Norman tied for the team lead in interceptions (three) while being the leader of the secondary.
Now more comfortable with the Redskins, Norman wants to not only see personal growth, but the entire defense succeeding.
"I think just everybody on the same page, everybody going out there and fighting hard and working hard," Norman said. "I think that's the biggest thing I've been stressing enough is hard work. Getting out there, whatever it may be, outwork the next man beside you, no matter who it is or what they're doing because that right there will take you or lead you into those fourth quarter games when they get late, both of the teams are tired – who has that extra burst or that extra energy in your backpack, bring it out and put it on the field.
"Those can be the wins and losses of the games so we've got to learn that early and that's what we're doing here in training camp."
2. Norman likes the approach that new defensive backs coach Torrian Gray is taking with the unit.
Brought in to lead the secondary, Gray – who had worked in the college ranks for the last few years – brings an energetic approach to his coaching philosophy.
During 1-on-1 drills, for example, Gray is often the most animated coach on the field, vocally expressing either excitement for a good play by one of his players or adjustments that need to be made for the next rep.
Check out behind the scenes images from Cornerback, Josh Norman's 2017 Redskins Photo Shoot.
"He brings a sound technique background to what he does," Norman said. "His approach is pretty cool, it vibes well with the group. He's a funny guy. I think that resonates with people when you have an energetic, funny guy. It comes off as 'OK, we can rock with this and learn some stuff.' I have been taking a few things of what he [does] and using them at our discretion, so it's been pretty good."
3. Despite being a Pro Bowl alternate last year, Norman is confident he remains one of the NFL's elite cornerbacks.
While his stats took a very slight dip in his first season with the Redskins, Norman doesn't believe they explain his full potential on the field.
Whether it was traveling with another team's top wide receiver or excelling in zone coverage, Norman believed his play improved if anything in 2016.
When asked if he believe he still possesses Pro Bowl talent, Norman quickly responded, "of course I do."
"Every year I feel that way," Norman said. "Every year I improve. I've gotten better in so many ways, so many attributes, not just on the field but off the field as well – with teammates, being a voice of reason. In that locker room, you have a whole bunch of different personalities, and being able to gel and mesh with that, and being that force that when you see, you want to see someone of standard and that's what we bring – that intensity, that fire that you just can't coach. You either have it or you don't, and when you step out on the field, that's what you're going to bring."
4. "It's a cat-and-mouse game."
In practices and during games, Norman is tested by nearly every kind of wide receiver. He's been tasked with stopping someone like 6-foot-4 wide receiver Terrelle Pryor Sr. – as he did last year in a game against the Cleveland Browns – and has gone toe-to-toe with speedy talents like former Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson.
Norman said the key to successfully stopping top wide receivers is using his strengths.
"Tall guys, we're the same. It's just who's going to go for the ball, who's going to get the ball," Norman said. "Short guys are quicker. They move in spaces to where you've got to touch them, you've got reach out. Some things they do, it's more so of they're trying to set you up, where those big guys, they're just going to try to bully you. That's my game, I enjoy that.
"Short guys, they [are] crafty, so you've got to get crafty with them, got to use your tools. Definitely have got to use your tools with them guys. It's a cat-and-mouse game."
5. Norman thinks his anticipatory skills remain a strength of his.
One of the tools in his game that makes Norman so successful is his ability to read and react to what offenses are doing.
That was the case last year when Norman faced off with Pryor at FedExField. While Pryor got the best of Norman in the first half, the Coastal Carolina product adjusted in the second half before eventually hauling in his first interception as a member of the Redskins.
On the play, Norman noticed some things in Cleveland's pre-snap alignment that made him realize they were going to target Pryor. Once the ball was thrown, Norman jumped Pryor's route and intercepted the ball.
His hope this year is that he'll experience more game-changing plays like that interception.
"When you're able to see things, memorize them, and then actually act upon what you memorized, I think that's the biggest thing because you see it and think 'OK, alright, I see it but next play I'm not going to really take what I saw and actually put it on the field,'" Norman said. "But then you see it again and you ask yourself, 'OK, alright, I saw that play before.' So I get out on the field, and then it comes to me again around the third quarter and I know it's coming. I anticipate it so fast because I've seen in before in the first quarter. They come back and do it again because offenses repeat themselves so much, and then you find a beat because you watched the film study early on in the week and then a certain situation is telling me what is going to come and I trigger. I don't even think about it.
"Like I said, it's God-given and it's enhancing over time and being in a system to where you develop those things. You start remembering routes and combinations, and that's where you win."