Prior to their Week 3 matchup, the whole world seemed to focus on Redskins cornerback Josh Norman against Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham. The hype was understandable.
In their 2015 meeting, the level of play went from physical to dangerous, as Beckham attempted to spear Norman. Once Norman signed with Washington in the offseason, one of the first questions he answered came about facing Beckham twice a year. The trash talk got dialed up throughout the summer, and by game time in late September, the entire NFL was ready for the matchup.
Beckham put up strong stats in that game, seven catches for 121 yards, but Norman's team got the win. Now, the two men are slated for another matchup this Sunday at FedEx Field, but the noise surrounding the pairing is significantly dialed down.
Redskins coach Jay Gruden was asked Wednesday if he would say something to Norman about keeping his cool against Beckham, and the coach made clear he didn't find that neccessary.
"Josh has done an excellent job playing within the system and playing within himself and, you know, the headlines are the headlines, but come game time he’s got himself ready to play," Gruden said. "He stays focused on his job, his responsibility and I think he’ll do the same thing against Odell and the Giants."
While Norman has made some headlines this season, largely, his play has been superb and he's been a model citizen. He's been fined a few times, at times unfairly, and penalized heavily. Beckham has played tremendously, but has had sporadic emotional outbursts, including another showing after New York's loss last Thursday night to the Eagles when he growled at himself while holding his head against a metal security gate.
The Giants' star receiver has talked about his need to stay under control, both on and off the field. During their Week 3 matchup, Beckham inadvertently blasted himself with a kicking net after swinging wildly at the net with his helmet, widely considered to be reflective of his frustration from going against Norman.
A huge difference in this week's game: The Giants have already locked up the No. 5 NFC playoff spot. For one week, the pressure should be off Beckham, as his team has nothing to play for against Washington. That said, New York coach Ben McAdoo has repeatedly said he will play his starters. How long the volatile star plays, however, remains a question.
"They’re going to play the game," McAdoo said of his starters, providing little clarity.
Already, the Giants aren't taking any shots at Norman, contrary to what happened before the last matchup.
"I think he’s a good player and I think he’s played well," Giants wideout Victor Cruz said Wednesday. "Obviously watching him over the course of the season, he’s done some positive things. I wish the guy nothing but the best."
Norman vs Beckham in Week 3 had buzz, a lot of it.
Norman vs Beckham in Week 17, so far, seems quiet.
Expect that to change once the ball is in the air.
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