Norman faces former team for first time
ASSOCIATED PRESS LANDOVER, Md. — More than a year has passed since the Carolina Panthers crushed the Washington Redskins to remain undefeated on their way to the Super Bowl, and, oh, how things have changed.
All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman signed with the Redskins
after the Panthers removed the franchise tag to make him a free agent.
While Carolina’s younger defense and quarterback Cam Newton have struggled and failed to meet expectations, Washington (7-5-1) remains in the NFC wild-card hunt with three games to go.
These aren’t the same Panthers (5-8) who beat the Redskins, 44-16, in November 2015, but they’re still a formidable group in the way of Kirk Cousins and Co. returning to the playoffs.
“A lot of the same players are back, so we’re going to have our hands full,” said Cousins, who needs 122 yards to break his single-season franchise passing record from last year.
“I remember we had five turnovers and if we turn the ball over again we can expect a similar result. We’ve got to protect the football and if we do that, we’ve got a chance, but if we turn it over, we’ll put ourselves in a hole just like we did last year.”
Without Norman, Carolina starts two rookie cornerbacks in James Bradberry and Daryl Worley. But Charles Johnson, Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short are still there on the Panthers defensive line and can rush Cousins.
The Redskins offense hasn’t been the problem. Ricky Jean Francois said the defense, which has struggled on third down and in the red zone, is aiming to do two things: “Win and stop Cam Newton.”