Jul 27, 2013; Spartanburg, SC USA; Carolina Panthers wide receiver Ted Ginn (19) catches a pass while being covered by cornerback Josh Norman (24) during practice held at Wofford College. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Norman: Is 2014 the Year He “Gets It”?

Stories have already been written this offseason about the Panthers’ preseason warrior of the defensive backfield.  He looked like a certified superstar heading into the season last year after a preseason of making plays.

Oct 28, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Carolina Panthers defensive back Josh Norman (24) makes an interception on Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall (15) during the first quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 28, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Carolina Panthers defensive back Josh Norman (24) makes an interception on Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall (15) during the first quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

During the four preseason games in 2013, he racked up some significant stats by deflecting 10 passes, hauling in 4 interceptions, and even returning one for a touchdown while amassing 141 yards on the returns.  He showed all the potential to be a stud when the regular season started.

All the potential he had shown meant little in week two against Buffalo.

Norman missed his assignment on the final play of the game and made EJ Manuel a hero for the week.  Manuel may one day develop into a great quarterback for Buffalo, and that game will be what gives his fans hope when and if he struggles in the future.  It was bad enough that Manual had looked like a superstar all day, but for a mistake to give him the opportunity for a legendary game winning play, was unforgivable.

After playing in every game as a rookie in 2012, and starting 12 of them, Josh Norman was put on the bench for the rest of the season last year after week two.  He was in such a dark corner of Coach Ron Rivera‘s doghouse that he wasn’t even active for most of the remaining 14 games of the season.  Even under circumstances when the Panthers were thinner at DB because of injury, Norman still didn’t even dress. The writing was on the wall then, not even an injury bug could prompt the coaches to trust him again.

As bad as the missed assignment was, there is no doubt more to the story.

It wasn’t Norman’s first mistake, simply the one that culminated all the others.  Despite all of his physical gifts, Norman has to get the mental part of the game under control.  Sooner rather than later, the Panthers’ brass hope that time will help accomplish this goal.

Norman played his college ball at Coastal Carolina and it can be difficult for a player from a small school to adjust to the game on the NFL level.  He was thrust into a difficult situation as a rookie because the Panthers have not been deep at corner for a long time.  When Chris Gambleour best corner went down for the season in 2012 after only four games, Norman was thrust into the starting line-up.  A true trial by fire where he undoubtedly caught the eye of Coach Rivera by making plenty of costly mental errors.

Norman is now entering year three and while it is wise to caution expectations there is still plenty of hope to be had.  Josh Norman has the skills to play the position.  He has good size (6’0”, 195lbs) and great ballhawking skills.  He has played too aggressively in the past but as he matures out of youthful arrogance he can overcome that.  It’s all about what he is willing to put into it.

So the question I propose is the title of this article. Is this the year that he “gets it”?

He has the potential to be a great player but he has a lot to prove before he is trusted again.  Despite what anybody else says, the Panthers secondary is in great shape this year with or without Norman.  Nevertheless I would like to see him climb out of those shadows of the coach’s doghouse and back into the light.

It’s a sweet thing to see the ball stolen from an opponent with a snazzy grab.  When a player has potential to make that happen he should be on the field.  Norman has nobody to blame but himself for why he hasn’t been on the field, and hopefully he realizes that nobody else can change it.  He needs to hit the books hard, train hard, fight back into the good graces of Ron Rivera, and get back on the field to make plays for our defense.

With the powerful front seven the Panthers are sporting this year balls will be hanging in the air for the taking all season.  I for one hope Josh Norman is one of the players out there taking advantage of the opportunities available.

What does the rest of Panthers Nation think? Leave us a comment and let us know if you think this could be the year the light comes on for Josh Norman.

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Tags: Carolina Panthers Josh Norman

  • wood

    I hope so… I think he has way too much potential to give up on him so early and if Rivera doesn’t see that then he sucks as a head coach and yes I have watched every game he has coached and he has majorly sucked before he went into desperate mode last year… soo we will see… management gave him multiple chances so hopefully he does the same for norman….

    • EQ

      When a drain sucks it’s considered useful.

  • Jeffrey L Mooney

    One play does not make a season or a player make…..or break. He deserves a chance to prove -or reprove- himself.

  • Pierre

    Norman deserves another chance just like any other human beings! He’s a great player, and he’s going to show that when he gets his opportunity again…

  • jeez

    This dude absolutely sucks…Remember him playing against the Giants his first season and giving up the whole field to his recievers or the game against the Falcons when he was continuously torched? He has so much hype around him for no reason. I for one, feel more comfortable with josh Thomas out there than Norman. Even though Thomas makes his share of mistakes he can atleast stop the run and he has a flare at times. Norman just always seems lost on the field.

    • JaDarius McCoy

      Josh norman is a project, and can be a liability in the run game, but a corners job in this legue is to limit big time plays, which aside from the week two loss vs EJ Manuel’s bills, norman has done well

      • jeez

        What big time plays does he limit?? This guy gave up every play against the Giants 2 years ago, he gave up two big plays against ATL including that bomb at the end, and he gave up the game winner against the Bills. Any other time I saw him on the field last year he was getting beat. The dude sucks. Stop the hype

  • Lee Cook

    He’s sure better than Josh Thomas!

    • jeez

      I like Thomas over Norman. Norman is skinny, slow, can’t stop the run, can’t cover in zone or man, and gives too much of a cusion to compensate for his slowness. He even looks like he’s scared on the field at times. Thomas atleast can tackle, stop the run, has good press coverage at the line. The only thing he really lacks is awareness especially in the zone.

  • churl

    The Coach of the Year is the root of the problem.