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Norman, Breeland Provide Strong Combination Against Bills


*The Redskins got a good look at how the secondary will look with Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland, as both made key plays together in the team's victory over the Bills. *

Redskins cornerback Josh Norman had played just three snaps with his new team entering Friday night's dress rehearsal against the Bills. So it was no surprise when, after nearly every positive defensive play – regardless of whether he was directly a part of it – Norman became extremely animated, punching the air in excitement and slapping hands with his teammates.

Cornerback Bashaud Breeland, who had played just seven snaps, could feel the enthusiasm spread to him and the rest of the team.

"The type of player that brings the energy he's bringing, it goes all across the field," Breeland said.

Both corners channeled that into their play in Friday night's 22-16 victory over Buffalo, which contributed to a cohesive-looking secondary and showcased what the season could look like with two players at the top of their game.

For the first time, both cornerbacks spent more than a drive playing together with the first-team defense, which functioned as a unit until they were pulled halfway through the second quarter. That allowed for five defensive drives in which the Bills, under quarterbacks Tyrod Taylor and E.J. Manuel, could only muster two field goals over that span.

"I thought the defense was menacing," Norman said. "I thought we were physical to a point. Guys were out there making big plays. The defensive front was out there getting off the ball. The linebackers were flying around and the secondary was breaking on the football and breaking up passes. I think that's what you've got to have to have a good defense."

Without much of an opportunity for Washington to see what it had in its two starting corners up to this point, the second defensive opportunity provided an early glimpse of the performances they could provide this season.

Following a Kirk Cousins interception that put the Bills at the Washington 31-yard line, the defense got to work. After a first down, Breeland played tight coverage on wide receiver Sammy Watkins down the sideline, forcing Taylor to overthrow a pass into the corner of the end zone.

Two plays later, Taylor aimed for the back of the end zone over the middle of the field for wide receiver Robert Woods, who couldn't collect the pass thanks to Norman, shading him and batting his hand in front to help tip the pass over his head.  

"I haven't had that much action in a while, but once I did it, it's just like riding a horse. Or a bike. Once you get on it. You don't forget it," Norman said. "Just coming out there during the week, all the noise, just wanted to put it out on the field. Hear my cry, hear everyone else's cry and give it all we had."

The defense's pass rush was its most effective of the previous two preseason games, forcing Taylor into poor throws and out of the pocket. Breeland noticed the difference in his ability to cover down the field on shortened plays.

"Our rushes were superb tonight," Breeland said. "We had a couple missed sacks but they played pretty good. They made it our job easier in the back end. We didn't have to cover for too long. The ball was out in a good amount of time. It was pretty good."

On their final drive together, Breeland broke up a pass play to Dezmin Lewis while Norman defended Greg Little tightly down the sideline to force an out of bounds pass. The third down stop warranted another celebration.

"I think it was just everything going on during the week," Norman said. "The trolls and the sharks and everybody's been running around, having opinions about this and that. I was just like, I'm going to come out here and put all that to bed. Come out here and do what we do…We're loving it, we're taking care of each other, lifting each other up, the team, and we're playing team ball and that's a great feeling."

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