As Josh Norman returned to Ashburn from his offseason serving communities in various places such as Flint, Michigan, and Mexico to attend mandatory minicamp, the cornerback looked to be in good spirits.
Joking with head coach Jay Gruden and making a few nice plays on the ball throughout minicamp, the veteran member of Washington's secondary seems pleased with the Redskins current situation, including his budding relationship with new defensive backs coach Ray Horton.
"Man, Ray is the coolest dude ever. He reminds me of my old ball coach," Norman said on Thursday. "The greatest thing about it is that is something I can respect, that is something I can really like."
Norman's larger than life personality and some past fiery on-field antics may lead some to believe that the veteran is someone who may not take coaching well.
To him, that's just a common misconception.
"I would say this: Quite contrary to the popular belief, I really do want to be coached," Norman said. "Really do want to be coached in the worst way."
It's not hard to see why Norman would gravitate toward someone like Horton. The defensive backs coach, who was hired in January, has a vast amount of NFL experience. He played for 10 seasons with the Bengals and the Cowboys, and has since been a member of numerous coaching staffs. He's worked as a defensive backs coach and served as defensive coordinator for short stints with the Cardinals, Titans and Browns.
"To see a guy like that with all that knowledge and experience, why the heck would I not want to soak that up like a sponge. I don't know everything," Norman said. "I'm at the top of the game at my position, but I don't know everything. So I'm still learning each and every day. And if I can get something from Ray, and I can steal a couple things from him and put it in my tool belt, man, how better off would I be?"
Jay Gruden has taken notice of the relationship as well, and it's a reason he was happy to have Horton join his staff for 2019.
“I think Ray brings a wealth of experience to the room, both as a coordinator and a position coach. He’s seen just about everything and coach about everybody. He’s coached great players, he’s developed players. His ability to communicate is what makes him a great football coach," Gruden said. "I think he and Josh in the short time they’ve had together, you can see the mutual respect they have for one another. That’s important, from a player to a coach. It’s gonna help Josh in the long run and Josh is going to help us.”
As Gruden mentioned, Horton and Norman have only had a few days together, but the coach seems to already be rubbing off well on the cornerback. Playing physical throughout the three days of minicamp, Norman recorded two interceptions.
If Horton's advice and teaching continue to wield results like that, Norman's love for his new coach is only going to grow.
"I'm all sold in on Ray Horton," Norman said. "I really am."
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