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After being benched, Josh Norman warned by former teammate DeAngelo Hall to 'get back to the basics'

After being benched, Josh Norman warned by former teammate DeAngelo Hall to 'get back to the basics'

Josh Norman is having a rough 12 hours.

The Redskins cornerback was on the wrong end of several deep passes during the Saints' 43-19 steamroll of the Redskins in primetime, leading head coach Jay Gruden to bench the seven-year veteran for the second half of the matchup.

After Norman voiced postgame that he would "not waste my breath" commenting on Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas' actions throughout the game, Thomas took to Twitter for some good ol' fashioned subtweeting. The back and forth between the two continued into the morning in tweets that have since been deleted by Norman. 

If that wasn't enough, former Redskins defensive back DeAngelo Hall weighed in on Norman's night on 106.7 The Fan's Sports Junkies simulcast on NBC Sports Washington and warned his former teammate to get back to the basics. 

"Josh is, I think, in love with being a celebrity right now and not necessarily being a football player," Hall said. "And Josh needs to kind of refocus. Get back on the grind. Get back to the basics, technique-wise, and really work because he's not going to live off the reputation of being Josh Norman. Teams are starting to go at him and he's either going to have to make plays or somebody else is going to get an opportunity to play."

Hall is probably referring to Norman's spring appearance on 'Dancing with the Stars' and his contributions to FOX NFL SUNDAY and FOX NFL KICKOFF during the 2018 season.

"I think we've seen the coaching staff kind of take that approach. It's no coming back from being benched. That already happened. He knows it. The team knows it. The outside world knows it and so for him he has to, like I said, get focused on just playing football and playing to the best of his ability. 'Cause if not, it's going to be another guy in there getting those snaps." 

Drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the fifth round of the 2012 draft, Norman once led the NFL in takeaways and earned first-team All-Pro from the Associated Press and the Pro Football writers association on top of a Pro Bowl. But since signing with Washington back in 2016, Norman has just three interceptions and four forced fumbles.

"I'm not going to say he was never good here, but for what we want him to do in this defense, Josh probably wasn't the best fit," Hall added.

"He was a different kind of corner. Like when me and Richard Sherman got into it a couple years back. It was like 'Aye Sherm, you're good for what Seattle asks you to do, but if I were to take you and put you in, let's say my defense that makes me play man, and makes me go follow this guy and that guy, and play all sorts of coverages and actually play football and not just play a schemed up version of football then no, I don't think you're better than me for that.  Are you better than me in Seattle's defense? Uh, maybe so. That's kind of what it was."

"Josh is a different kind of corner, man. He doesn't like to sit in there and press, sit and fight with his man at the line of scrimmage. He likes to bail. When you bail, you give up certain things. You're not going to be as quick at comeback routes, and curl routes and possession routes. But you tend to kick the deep ball off when you do that."

Being a 'different kind of corner' than what the Redskins want right now is what Hall believes got Norman benched for the first time in his career.

"I think what happened is, what led to Josh probably being benched, is Jay probably was like 'Look man, we can't keep giving up big plays' and the conversation probably went back and forth a little bit. I don't know. I wasn't in that locker room. But I would imagine that they weren't pleased with the way Josh was playing certain coverages. I know that DB coach. I know he probably felt like, 'Look Jay, I've tried to tell him to do it x-y-z. Josh wants to do it his way.' And Jay probably made the decision, look let's get this guy out of here. Let's get another guy in here who's going to do what we ask him to do and what we teach and kind of go from there."

The Redskins now have a short week to plan for Norman's former team, the Carolina Panthers.

How much of a role the cornerback will play Sunday when Cam Newton and co. come to town will be interesting to watch.

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'Just plain dirty': Trevor Matich blasts Keanu Neal after hit on Jordan Reed

'Just plain dirty': Trevor Matich blasts Keanu Neal after hit on Jordan Reed

On Thursday, the Redskins earned their first preseason victory of the season, defeating the Falcons 19-7 on the road in Atlanta.

But after the game, celebrating an exhibition win was not in the cards. Attention was turned directly to the health of Washington's star tight end.

After absorbing a brutal helmet-to-helmet hit from Falcons safety Keanu Neal in the second quarter, resulting in his helmet flying off, tight end Jordan Reed was forced to exit the contest. No. 86 started feeling concussion-like symptoms at halftime, and head coach Jay Gruden confirmed after the game that Reed had entered the concussion protocol.

The tight end has a history of concussions. If diagnosed with a concussion again, this would be the seventh documented instance for Reed since he started playing college football.

On Redskins Postgame Live, saying that NBC Sports Washington's Trevor Matich was furious about Neal's hit would be an understatement.

“Just looking at that hit, I thought it was a dirty hit. It was dirty," Matich said. "The safety coming up had plenty of time to see what was going on. Reed was in the grass. Reed didn’t duck his head down, and ended up taking a helmet to his head because of a defender coming in low and didn’t expect Reed to duck."

Matich completely put the blame on Neal and emphasized that there's no place for a hit like that, especially during exhibition football when the games don't count in the standings.

"Reed didn’t duck his head. That defender came in high," he said. "That was a dirty hit. It would have been dirty in the regular season, and especially dirty in the preseason.”

The play resulted in a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty. But it's fair to question whether Neal deserved a harsher punishment.

Santana Moss was asked whether he thought Neal should have been ejected for the hit, and he had no doubt in his answer.

“It should have been," Moss said. "I saw last week in a preseason game a guy had one shot to the head and he was out of there."

Inconsistent officiating has been an issue in the NFL for several years. 

As the league continues each year to alter the rules in order to make the game safer, Moss wants to see the officiating improve its consistency as well.

"That’s one thing I wanted to see, that our officials do better," Moss said. "We talk about all the rules they are changing and the way they’re going to ref these games. When you see something like that, instantly get the guy out of there. This is something that we’re not trying to tolerate. If you allow guys to do this, you’ll find guys in situations like Jordan Reed.”

The NFL continues to try and make the game safer. Many rules have been put into effect recently to eliminate hits like Neal's. Of course, defenders largely dislike these guidelines, claiming it takes away from their ability to defend receivers. Some fans may dislike the lack of contact as well. 

“It takes away some spectacular hits that fans want to see," Matich said.

But at the end of the day, the NFL is a business. 

"Ultimately, this is family entertainment in the NFL. Head trauma is not good for business," Matich said. "It’s just not. You have an expense of losing some of those fantastic hits, but you also have fewer concussions and problems."

While Neal's hit may have been deemed acceptable and regarded as a great hit a decade ago, there's no place for a hit like that in today's NFL.

"I thought that hit right there was just plain dirty," Matich said.

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Cassanova McKinzy brave in face of stepbrother’s death with standout performance vs. Atlanta

Cassanova McKinzy brave in face of stepbrother’s death with standout performance vs. Atlanta

In the Redskins' 19-7 preseason victory over the Falcons, outside linebacker Cassanova McKinzy arguably solidified his spot on the 53-man roster. 

The former Auburn linebacker recorded three tackles and two sacks, one of which resulted in a forced fumble. The other, McKinzy blew by the left tackle using a Demarcus Ware-like technique to have a free run at the quarterback.

McKinzy, who is positioning himself to be on an active roster to start a season for the first time in his career, was asked by NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay if any of the coaches had said anything to him regarding his stellar performance and roster status.

"I had a couple of coaches saying 'good job,' but I haven't talked to anyone," McKinzy told Finlay. "I stayed out there a little longer than I was supposed to."

After the clock hit zero and the initial on-field postgame exchanges concluded, McKinzy stayed a little bit longer on the turf. He had to let his emotion out.

Just three days prior, the linebacker's stepbrother had passed away. 

"I haven't cried all week. I haven't let anything out. I haven't told anybody. That was just my time to let it all out," McKinzy said. "I feel a little better, and when I get around my family, I'll feel even better. I'll see them tonight."

Despite his devastating loss, McKinzy was able to stay focused on football. Very few people, if anyone, in Redskins Park knew what the linebacker was going through.

He didn't want anyone to know, either.

"No one really knew. I didn't tell anyone because, at the end of the day, it's still my job," he said. "I don't want any pity from nobody. I just want to go out there and do my job and show that I can keep focus, no matter what's going on in my life."

"I have to do my job," he continued. "In that building, the only thing that matters is football. Everything else, you have to keep outside the building."

The linebacker was able to do just that on Thursday, as his standout preseason continued. In the three seasons since he went undrafted, McKinzy has just one NFL tackle to his name. He's changed his body and gotten quicker, and if this preseason is any indication, he could be a viable pass rusher for the Burgundy and Gold in 2019. 

While No. 58 would not say he dedicated his performance to his late stepbrother, it did give him, if anything, a little extra motivation.

"I would say half and half," on whether he dedicated his performance to his late step-brother. "I came out today saying I was going to work on some things, and I worked on them. I came out and said I was going to start reading, being better with my keys and more consistent running to the ball. Just paying attention to what the tackles were giving me, the whole nine."

While he's likely played himself onto the 53-man roster, McKinzy doesn't believe he's a sure thing yet.

"I wouldn't say lock, I still have a lot of work to do," he said. "It felt real good just to be back out there and do what I know how to do."

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