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Josh Norman ready to face Julio Jones, and vice versa

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) misses a ball as Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman (24) looks on during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)


Josh Norman has done more talking than covering lately, and that’s through no fault of his own.

The Panthers cornerback hasn’t had to face many shots in the second half of the season, as teams have consciously avoided him. That’s partly why he’s stuck on the four interceptions he had the first month of the season.

But that could change this week, when he’ll be draped all over Falcons wideout Julio Jones, who remains the centerpiece of their offense and is going to be targeted often.

“You don’t want to go out there and feel like you’re wasting your time on the football field or you’re just out there kicking dirt. You want to be actually involved in the game,” Norman said of Jones, via Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review. “He pushes me, man. He pushes you to your wildest dreams imaginable. So, it’s kind of one of those things where I love the competition. I’m excited for it. I’m ready. I’m anxious. I’m pumped.”

Norman, one of the Panthers’ emerging stars of the season, has been waiting for these upcoming two matchups with Jones all season. Norman did a good job on Jones last year, limiting him to 10 catches for 117 yards in their two meetings combined. That helped put him on the map, and signaled his rise to prominence this year.

“Last year is last year, this is a whole new year,” Jones said. “But if he’s looking forward to the matchup, it’s going to be a matchup.”

Unless Jones can do something few others in the league have done this year — make a play on Norman — it might not be that good of a matchup from a team perspective.