‘Truly an honor’ to be again with Panthers, says Norman, 35

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Josh Norman was operating his Atlanta espresso store that sits throughout the road from the cigar bar owned by former Carolina Panthers teammate Cam Newton when interim coach Steve Wilks known as the cornerback into emergency responsibility Sunday night time.

Norman, 35, selected to spend the 2022 season getting his enterprise — Omni Espresso & Eggs — off the bottom with the considered returning to the NFL provided that the appropriate scenario arose.

That arising occurred Saturday when Wilks — who developed Norman from a fifth-round decide in 2011 right into a first-team All-Professional in 2015 — misplaced beginning cornerback Jaycee Horn (damaged wrist) for Sunday’s sport at Tampa Bay with first place within the NFC South on the road.

Horn had surgical procedure Tuesday, and the crew will consider in 10-12 days whether or not he might return for the regular-season finale at New Orleans.

In the meantime, Norman was signed to the apply squad Monday with the plan to raise him to the 53-man roster in time for the 1 p.m. sport towards Tom Brady and the Buccaneers.

Carolina (6-9) can win the division if it beats Tampa Bay (7-8) and New Orleans (6-9). That additionally would assist Wilks construct his case as he seeks to go from interim to full-time coach after the season.

“It truly was about charity and giving back to these kids and helping him out as much as we could,” Norman stated Wednesday of why he got here again. “What I love about Wilks is he has that same mindset to want to give back.

“It is simply actually an honor for us to be right here.”

This was Norman’s first time back in the Carolina locker room since the 2016 offseason, when then-Carolina general manager Dave Gettleman rescinded his franchise offer.

Norman spent the 2016-19 seasons with the Washington Commanders, 2020 with the Buffalo Bills and 2021 with the San Francisco 49ers.

Although much has changed at Carolina, the scenario facing it is similar to what Norman faced in 2014 when the Panthers won their final four games to win the NFC South with a 7-8-1 record.

Norman, a young cornerback who boosted the 2014 run, doesn’t see why that can’t happen again.

“It is a type of issues the place you simply use confidence,” Norman said. “Being on that crew again then, having that mindset that it doesn’t matter what, you are at all times in it … what [Wilks] coached, laying brisk, breakup performs, how one can use fingers, simply all of it, it is nonetheless there.

“I carried all that when I left here. It’s just like riding a bike without training wheels.”

Wilks stated Norman appeared good in Wednesday’s apply, the nook’s first full exercise with the crew. He stated the plan is to convey Norman off the bench and have him play outdoors on particular packages, admitting that Norman is in form however not sport form.

Norman cannot say for positive whether or not he could be right here if it weren’t for the connection he has with Wilks. However he admitted it is particular being again on the crew he helped to an NFL-best 15-1 report and journey to the Tremendous Bowl in 2015.

“I’m just a passenger on this ship,” Norman stated. “It’s like a dream or movie, but it’s actually real and it’s happening. It’s like one of those out-of-body experiences I’m still trying to process.”

However Norman’s confidence in having to face Bucs broad receivers Julio Jones and Mike Evans, two gamers he prided himself on shutting down in his prime, remains to be there.

“Those guys obviously are at the top of their game, still today,” Norman stated. “Nothing’s going to change that. It’s just because of who they are. At the end of the day, those guys know me, I know them. So we’re going to have some fun.”

Solely linebacker Shaq Thompson and deep snapper J.J. Jansen stay on the Carolina roster from when Norman final performed. They see the identical swagger and “dawg” now that the cornerback had then.

“He’s always been an important part of what this place has been,” Jansen stated. “This is a tremendous opportunity to bring on board a veteran, a guy who knows this place, who knows this system. That’s a pretty unique opportunity in Week 17 of an NFL season.

“It is good to know the way a man goes to function underneath fireplace. I am glad he is right here. He is bought a possibility to assist us down the stretch run.”

Jansen wasn’t surprised at all to learn Norman and Newton had businesses across the street from each other. No two players defined the 2015 team more through their competitiveness and trash-talking.

It came to a head in the 2015 training camp when Norman intercepted a Newton pass and Newton ran him down for a tackle that turned into an all-out brawl.

Since then, they have been closer than ever. They even send customers to each other’s place.

Norman said it’s no different being across the street from each other than across the line of scrimmage.

“We’re not rivals,” Norman said. “We’re truly nice enterprise buddies.”

Although he hasn’t talked to Newton about his return to Carolina, which Newton did last season for a stretch run that wasn’t successful, he’s sure Newton is as excited for him as he is for himself.

“I could not write the script any higher than what it’s,” Norman said. “We have got a possibility right here to do one thing nice.”