Panthers bring back former All-Pro CB Josh Norman for unexpected playoff push

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With Jaycee Horn out with a broken wrist and a playoff spot at stake, the Carolina Panthers see a familiar face at cornerback.

The Panthers announced Monday that they are signing 2015 Carolina All-Pro Josh Norman, who has emerged as one of the most influential cornerbacks in the game. He will first sign with the Carolina practice team. He will qualify for the roster for Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Cornerback starter Horn is due to undergo wrist surgery on Tuesday, after which his condition is unknown.

Norman, 35, hasn’t replicated his All-Pro form since 2015, but has remained an NFL starter for the better part of six seasons since. He hasn’t played in 2022 after starting 14 games for the .

Josh Norman during the 2015 All-Pro season with the Panthers. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)

Interim head coach Steve Wilkes was the Carolina’s defensive backs coach during Norman’s first tenure with the team, which saw Norman develop into a shutdown corner during the 2015 season. rarely challenged, and often paid the price when they did.

Norman defended 18 passes in 2015, recording four interceptions, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He returned two interceptions for a touchdown that season. Norman earned his Defensive Player of the Year vote and spent the season on his five-year, $75 million contract with Washington, with a guarantee he had $50 million. He played four of his seasons in Washington with then-New York Giants receiver Odell and his fight with Beckham Jr. made regular headlines.

Norman never came close to his previous All-Pro level in Washington, but was a four-year starter and tended to force turnovers. Recorded eight forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

He joined the Buffalo Bills in 2020 before playing in San Francisco in 2021. It’s unclear how much the 35-year-old, who has no on-field experience this season, can contribute in Carolina. But Wilkes has faith in him, and the 6-9 Panthers have won three of their last four games and unexpectedly found themselves in playoff contention.

Carolina closed out the NFC South with a win in the final two weeks of the season. A win over the 7-8 Bucs, the team they beat 21-3 in Week 7, would give them the lead in the division. The Panthers will close out the season in Week 3 when he faces the 6-9 New Orleans Saints.

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