Cornerback-needy Panthers agree to deal with Josh Norman as playoff race heats up
Norman was previously with Carolina from 2012-15.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The Carolina Panthers are bringing back a familiar face as they make a push for their first playoff appearance since 2017.
On Monday, the team signed cornerback Josh Norman to its practice squad after injuries have ravaged the Panthers’ secondary. He can be elevated to the active roster for Sunday’s matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Carolina’s victory over the Detroit Lions on Saturday was critical in terms of keeping the team’s playoff hopes alive, but it came at a costly price as defensive standout Jaycee Horn broke his wrist late in the game. He is scheduled to have surgery Tuesday.
Earlier in the season, cornerback Donte Jackson was lost for the year after suffering an Achilles tear, leaving Horn and C.J. Henderson as Carolina’s top-two cover corners.
With Horn now also sidelined for an unknown amount of time, the Panthers, who would clinch the NFC South with wins in their final two games, needed help in the defensive backfield, thus leading to the Norman signing.
Norman was previously with the Panthers from 2012-15, and was an instrumental part of the 2015 team that went 15-1 in the regular season en route to a Super Bowl 50 appearance.
During that stint, the now 35-year-old played in 53 regular season games, starting 38 of them, and intercepted seven passes, taking two back for touchdowns.
In the time since, Norman has played for Washington, Buffalo and San Francisco.
While the Coastal Carolina product is far from the All-Pro talent he was in 2015, his veteran presence and fiery attitude could be a welcome addition to a young Panthers team looking to win its first division title in seven years.
Prior to the official signing, interim head coach Steve Wilks spoke highly of the longtime corner during Monday’s presser.
“He has experience in this league,” Wilks said. “He brings veteran leadership. And most importantly I feel like he possesses DNA. He played for me. He understands the culture that we’ve tried to create here and the element of play that we’re looking for.”
Wilks was Norman’s defensive backs coach for the entirety of his first stint in Carolina, in which he and the Panthers won the NFC South three consecutive times from 2013-15.
It remains to be seen how much of a role Norman will have during the final two regular season games, but if nothing else, he will provide much-needed depth at the cornerback position behind Henderson and Keith Taylor Jr.
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