The Redskins' cornerback will take center stage next week for the premiere of "Dancing With The Stars." He already feels he's gotten better footwork and explosion because of his practicing.
"It's all about leverage in everything you do," Josh Norman says.
You could attribute that quote to his day job, sure. Getting proper positioning on a wide receiver is part of the description for a cornerback, after all. But Norman, who is currently preparing for "Dancing With The Stars," set to premiere this Monday night, knows there is always potential to showcase and use his skills on a variety of platforms.
So, when ABC approached Norman, for the second time in three years, to join the show, he knew there would be a bigger opportunity than just a potential five-week run of celebrity enhancement.
"I was blessed with the opportunity again, very fortunate, it came back around to me and this time, I accepted it on behalf of my non-profit organization Starz24," Norman said. "I want to get that out a lot more than myself because that's who I'm trying to help. That's why I want to win this mirror ball, for my organization."
Starz24, Norman's foundation, provides enrichment to children through community events and youth programs, and he hopes Redskins fans will vote for him each week so he can continue to spread awareness for the efforts of his various programs centered around his hometown of Greenwood, S.C.
His focus to win, then, has more motivation. Over the last couple of weeks, Norman has been doing his own kind of two-a-days – working in the morning during the team's offseason program before practicing in the late afternoon with partner Sharna Burgess at a local dance studio. Norman says he's advanced way past the two-step, and through hours of training has realized the crossover benefits of learning proper dance techniques.
"It's amazing how strong the athletes have to be to be on their toes and the calves are just bulging so I'm working out stuff in my ankles and my calves that I've never worked out before," Norman said. "I'm really, seriously more explosive. I feel like at least the last couple weeks that I've been practicing. I probably have been just by learning some of the techniques and tools to which she's been working with me on and then doing different things right after the OTAs and going right to work in four or five hour practices. It's just pushing off a little bit more."
Norman has been watching videos of dances to improve his technique and footwork, and from a brief practice session watching him and Burgess dance together, he's nearly got his first dance committed to memory and remains open to constructive criticism every time he makes a mistake.
If there is any question about his dedication to the Redskins during voluntary workouts, consider the fact that Norman will be flying back and forth from Dulles, Va., to Los Angeles each weekend, for as long as he remains on the show, so that he misses as little workout time as possible at the team facility.
"The routine we're putting together, it's definitely some smoke, it's hot and it's coming to you with that fire," Norman said. "I try to do something to keep me going, which is going to better and further my career outside of what I'm doing in football. Football is just a little inkling of life."
That's not to say Norman is looking too far ahead. As he begins preparing for the 2018 campaign, he sees a promising future, one that relies on better attention to details.
"That's what I was telling the guys in the room the other day when we first kicked off," Norman said. "This is year that we have to be disciplined and detail oriented. Everything we do. If he says behind the white line, there shouldn't be a foot on the white line. Those are the things that will carry us into the games when we make a mistake and the other team makes a mistake. Who makes more mistakes?
"If we can cut those down, I believe we can be in any game and compete in those games," he added. "Because to be quite honest with you, I'm tired of being in those fighting-dog matchups. We get to those points and it's like, what do we do here, instead of going out there and blowing teams out by 21 and getting up on cats and keeping them down. I'm ready for that and I feel we can take the right steps."
Norman described his new quarterback in Alex Smith in the same way he described his upcoming dance this Monday: "fire."
"He's really good, just his presence, his aura about coming into the building as a quarterback," Norman said. "It's just wow, this guy right here is really coming in here ready to get some wins for us. You can see that in how he prepares and how he performs on and off the field. Obviously seeing him come through the door, he had a cup of Joe just ready to go to work."
Norman is, too, and he says the team is planning to have some watch parties while he dances his way to the end of the competition. He's still got some more practicing before he can feel confident in his abilities and his goal to grab the mirror ball, but knows, in the brief moments where everything clicks just right, what it will feel like.
"Once you get that down and you get that rhythm with the music, you're just pretty much like floating on air," he said.