Entering the upper echelon of NFL cornerbacks last season, Josh Norman understands that people will view him differently. He's prepared to face whatever comes his way.
Josh Norman is embracing all of the change that has happened for him over the last four months.
No longer does the Coastal Carolina product call the Carolinas home after the Panthers rescinded his franchise tag in April. His rise to fame was complete, too, when he earned All-Pro honors last season.
"I was the underdog and I had to fight my way up to the top," Norman said. "I had to drive, drive, drive and continue to work hard and do everything that I've gotten to this point. But now, I'm not longer the underdog. Now I'm now longer that person. Now I am the guy that has to take on a new face, has to take on a new mask and be somebody that is always going to be the standard and looked at as, 'Okay, well we've got to go after him. We've got to see what that's like.'"
Indeed, Norman will likely be the top defensive player the Redskins' opponents have to gameplan for this season.
The 28-year-old will be tasked with going against the top wide receivers in the NFL each and every week.
Through Washington's first three games of the season, Norman will square off with Antonio Brown, Dez Bryant and Odell Beckham Jr.
The three combine for eight Pro Bowl seasons and seven seasons with at least 10 touchdown receptions.
What also comes with the territory is being under the media's microscope with every step taken.
"That's in a new realm for me," Norman said. "That's something that I haven't experienced. Now, taking that challenge and looking at it, I want to do in a way – I want to do it in a way that nobody else is going to make me do it. I think that, in an aspect, I have to grow in that field and I will. Those things come and I've got to understand that, but still have that dog when we on the football field. That's what we're working on right now."
Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman has been voted the 11th best player on the NFL's "Top 100 Players of 2016" list.
The time for those marquee matchups will come soon. For now, Norman is trying to focus on improving in a defense that comes with new terminology and assignments.
He believes "everybody is on the same page" and the communication – which he views as the biggest key to success for any secondary – has improved over the last month of practices.
"We're starting to build our identity in the secondary," Norman said. "We've got a guy like Will (Blackmon) back here in the background. I mean, shoot, he comes in here and he's making plays. That's when you know you're elevating. Exactly. Everybody is being on the same page and our communication is working out a lot better getting prepared for the Buffalo Bills – I think that's the biggest thing."