Of the several challenges it takes to adjust to a new defensive coordinator, new defensive backs coach and new defensive players, cornerback Josh Norman figured his first name wouldn't be one of them. But scan the roster briefly, or listen to Torrian Gray call out names at practice, and you'll realize that isn't exactly the case.
Which is to say, the Redskins have five players named Josh on their team – last names Norman, Doctson, Evans, Harvey-Clemons and Holsey – making it just a little challenging to know who is being summoned, instructed or congratulated by a coach, who haphazardly yells out "Josh!"
That's why Norman made sure this past spring that Gray call him "J-No," his common nickname, so that there might not be any confusion.
"I got Torrian Gray right on that one the first day because we have like five Joshes," Norman said laughing. "Like, dude, come on. 'Josh, look up,' and one Josh turns, Josh Evans looks up, 'No, another Josh.' Dude, just get your guys right [laughter]. So, yeah, they've got a couple names. J-Ho [Joshua Holsey], he's got a name as well. There's a lot of Joshes. I've never been on a team with this many Joshes before. I mean, you've got an offensive Josh, so many defensive Joshes, and we have got a special teams Josh. Everybody is Joshing up this whole year [laughter].
"It's going to be a Josh year."
If he's right, the Redskins should be in good condition, especially if Doctson can become the kind of wide receiver the team expected out of college and have been patiently waiting to see. But a "Josh year" also implies another strong year for Norman, who, even without a Pro Bowl selection last season, said he feels as though it was his best year to date.
Greg Manusky's new scheme will impact him further in 2017, as Norman will have the opportunity to play farther off the line of scrimmage, allowing him to play in what feels like "his backyard."
That will allow him to take advantage of his "God-given" instinctual habits -- reading a quarterback's eyes, blitzing some more, being ready to attack the ball carrier -- based on, as he said Friday, watching film, memorizing routines and knowing that offenses like to repeat themselves as the game progresses.
"It's great. I enjoy it," Norman said of playing off coverage. "Like I said, this goes right into my toolbox of what we like to do. It's definitely going to be a fun year for me. This goes back to our question earlier about route recognition and timing them, how you see things and you act upon them. I see them so fast, and being off [the line of scrimmage] as you say, I see things a lot more down the field. It becomes massive to me."