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Ron Rivera: Josh Norman always had confidence, now he has maturity

Super Bowl Opening Night Fueled by Gatorade

SAN JOSE, CA - FEBRUARY 01: Josh Norman #24 of the Carolina Panthers addresses the media at Super Bowl Opening Night Fueled by Gatorade at SAP Center on February 1, 2016 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

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When Josh Norman arrived in Panthers camp as a rookie in 2012, he had more confidence than you might expect for a fifth-round pick from Coastal Carolina. But he wasn’t quite as ready for the NFL as he thought he was.

“He came in a very confident, cocky football player,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera recalled today when asked about Norman. “It was evident he was still needing to grow and mature as a football player.”

That growth and maturity took some time. Although Norman started 12 games as a rookie, he didn’t play much in his second season and still wasn’t a permanent starter in his third season. It was only this season, his fourth year in the league, that Norman became a full-time starter, and a star. Rivera said that stardom has come from learning to play the game the right way, within the Panthers’ defense.

“As years went on, we were seeing the development,” Rivera said. “He kind of shot from the hip, gambled a lot, took a lot of chances, but he started to grow, develop in the scheme.”

Now Norman is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL -- right in time to help the Panthers get to the Super Bowl, and then cash in next month as a free agent.