Redskins

Josh Norman was active vs. Detroit but didn't contribute - here's what happened

Redskins

FEDEX FIELD -- The Redskins came out victorious on Sunday for only the second time this season, but one name was missing for almost the entirety of the afternoon.

That would be Redskins cornerback Josh Norman. Just hours prior to kickoff, reports surfaced that the 31-year-old cornerback would be a healthy scratch against Detroit. But when Washington announced their seven inactive players 90 minutes before kickoff, Norman's name was absent from the list. Cornerback Aaron Colvin was listed as inactive instead.

Despite suiting up, Norman did not play a snap on defense. Fabian Moreau shifted to the outside cornerback spot in his place with rookie Jimmy Moreland taking over slot duties. The Burgundy and Gold's secondary shined without Norman, intercepting Lions quarterback Jeff Driskel three times, including two from Moreau.

Interim head coach Bill Callahan was asked postgame about the decision and whether it was injury-related or a benching. 

"He's been fighting through some injuries this year," Callahan said. "Today, it was really his decision when he came to the stadium whether he wanted to be activated or inactive, because of the fact that he is battling a lot of things. So with that being said, he elected to (be active), which I was proud of."

Callahan said Norman was available in an "emergency role," similarly to the role he played in Washington's Week 9 loss to Minnesota, one he played just over 50 percent of defensive snaps while dealing with an injury.

 

Entering Sunday's contest, Norman was listed as questionable on the injury report with a hamstring injury. He practiced in full on Wednesday and Thursday but was a limited participant on Friday. The cornerback has been active in all but one game for Washington this season, as he missed the Redskins' Week 7 loss to San Francisco with a thigh injury. 

Callahan stated that he, defensive coordinator Greg Manusky and secondary coach Ray Horton all sat down with Norman on Thursday. The interim head coach said there was "a good discussion and dialogue with Josh," but would not share any further details on what was said in the conversation.

Norman was not made available for comment after the game.

When he's been on the field, Norman's play has been disappointing. Norman, who's in the fourth year of a five-year, $75 million contract, is Pro Football Focus' eighth-worst cornerback in the NFL among qualified players.

"At times, we'd like to have some plays back for him," Callahan said on Norman's play this season. "But I think overall, Josh is a competitor that I really respect and that I love. He's an intricate part to our football team."

Throughout his postgame press conference, Callahan continuously praised Norman for the way he handled the situation. 

"I love Josh and I'm proud of the way he's handled things. He's a true pro in a lot of ways," Callahan said. "You can't say enough about his professionalism."

Despite the kind words, the interim head coach would not commit to inserting Norman back in the starting lineup once he's fully healthy.

"Again, we'll look at everything," Callahan said. "We'll reevaluate everything going back into the week as we start the week of preparation for Carolina."

The Redskins travel to North Carolina next Sunday, where Norman spent the first four years of his NFL career as a member of the Panthers and earned All-Pro honors in 2015. Now, it's a legitimate wonder whether he'll play a meaningful role next Sunday when Washington faces his former team.

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