Panthers Norman Ready to Duel With Falcons Julio Jones

CHARLOTTE, NC (WCCB Charlotte) — Opponents are starting to figure out Josh Norman.

Don’t make him mad before a game.

The Carolina Panthers star defensive back ‘goes to a dark place’ before games, especially big ones, but Atlanta’s Julio Jones made sure he did not provide the fuel this week. Jones, like New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees the week before, had nothing but praise for Norman.

Josh Norman Panthers

Josh Norman speaks with the media on Thursday (12.10.15) before facing the Falcons.

“I think guys started to catch on to not rub me the wrong way in a sense,” Norman said. “At the same time, he’s a competitor and I feel he goes about doing his job in a professional way and not giving me anything to go off of.”

Post game comments from Norman after Carolina’s win over Dallas hinted that he raised his level of play against the Cowboys’ Dez Bryant in part because of comments that Bryant made to Norman’s teammates prior to the game. Bryant was held to just one catch for six yards when matched up against Norman on Thanksgiving.

Head coach Ron Rivera does not have a problem with Norman’s alter-ego on game-day as long as he doesn’t ‘go past that line’.

“It has its moments,” Rivera said. “There’s something about him and the way he thinks and looks at things. That’s the alter-ego he has ‘in-person’ versus ‘football player’. (There’s) his meek, mild-mannered self and then there’s the Dark Knight. There is certain things about certain guys when you put the uniform on and you get on the field between the white lines and your football personality takes over.”

Norman considers Julio Jones one of the best, if not the best, wide-receivers in the game.  The stats prove that true this season as Jones leads the league in receptions and yards—102 catches for 1,338 yards and six touchdowns.

“I have been looking forward to it since, I guess, the start of the season,” Norman said about the match-up with Jones. “Every time you can get an opponent like that you are always looking forward to the best that’s on the field that day. He will be the best on Sunday.”

Last week, Drew Brees threw for 282 yards and three touchdowns in the Panthers 41-38 win. The defense vowed to fix the mistakes after the game in New Orleans and Norman echoed those sentiments on Thursday.

“Last week, they did well. This is totally about Atlanta. Last week was last week. If you are scheming for last week, we are far ahead of that,” Norman said.

A Panthers win Sunday would give Carolina 13-wins in a regular season for the first time in franchise history. Sunday’s game is at 1pm at Bank of America Stadium.