By: Will Burchfield
Jim Caldwell rattled off the many positive attributes of Washington Redskins' cornerback Josh Norman.
"Size, quickness, speed, toughness, competitiveness," Caldwell said. "He's always displayed that."
Then Matthew Stafford followed suit.
"Tall, physical, can run, smart, good ball skills. Checking the list pretty good," he said.
The Lions will get a first-hand look at Norman's impressive skillset when they take on the Redskins on Sunday at Ford Field. One player, in particular, is looking forward to it.
"I'm pretty sure it's going to be a great time and I can't wait," Marvin Jones told 97.1 The Ticket on Thursday morning. "He's a good player, he's a try-hard player, and I'm a try-hard guy as well, so it's going to be a good matchup."
Jones figures to see a lot of Norman on Sunday. The Lions' top wide receiver has drawn heavy attention from opposing defenses of late, and the Redskins haven't backed down from deploying their All-Pro cornerback in one-on-one matchups against the opposition's best.
One such clash came in Week 3, when Norman shadowed New York Giants' wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. Per ESPN Stats & Info, Beckham caught six of nine passes against Norman for 107 yards, but Norman kept him out of the end zone.
Beckham and Norman have quite the history, of course, and it's been suggested in the past that Norman has thrown the receiver off his game by getting into his head.
Jones isn't worried about that.
"I'm a little different than OBJ" he laughed. "Norman's a great player and I definitely like battles, but nothing really gets into my head."
Stafford and the Lions got a brief look at Norman in 2014, when he was still with the Carolina Panthers. Norman, far from the superstar he is today, didn't show up in the box score.
"But now, he's doing whatever they ask him to do," Stafford said. "Playing all different types of coverages, matching up on guys, moving around, playing in the slot. Whatever he needs to do to try and help his team win, so he's a good player. We'll go up against him and see what happens."
Norman topped NFL.com's cornerback rankings for Week 7, compiled by former Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor. As Taylor noted, Norman has allowed just 17 receptions on 33 targets this season while tallying eight pass break-ups and 26 tackles.
"Step aside, Richard Sherman. There's a new No. 1 cornerback -- the same one who's been claiming that he is the best cornerback all year," Taylor said. "Josh Norman has proven why he is the NFL's highest-paid cornerback during his short time with the Redskins.
The Lions enter Sunday's game on a two-game winning streak, during which time Stafford has thrown seven touchdowns and zero interceptions. But Taylor thinks Norman will have his way.
"Norman faces a hot Matthew Stafford -- who has completed 68.9 percent of his passes this season -- on the road this week. I see him taking care of business against Marvin Jones, Golden Tate and veteran Anquan Boldin," said Taylor.
The 36-year-old Boldin, who has seen plenty of great defensive backs throughout his career, kept his praise for Norman to a minimum.
"He's a good corner, that's easy to see," Boldin said.
Asked what makes Norman so good, Boldin replied, "He makes plays."
Norman is considered one of the most dangerous ball-hawks in the NFL. He had four interceptions in 2015 – two of which he returned for touchdowns – and has one so far as a member of the Redskins.
"He reads routes well, he's got really good ball skills," Stafford said. "That's kind of his thing: he's really good at catching the football if you put it in a bad spot."
Stafford has cut down on such mistakes this season, having thrown just four interceptions in the Lions' first six games. He acknowledged he'll be extra wary of Norman on Sunday.
"Yeah, no question. When there's really good players on the field – and he's one of them – you've got to know where they are at all times," Stafford said. "Know what their strengths and what their weaknesses are, and try to be safe with the football around guys that can catch it like that.
"It's on our guys outside to try and win."
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