The Seattle Seahawks drafted Kevin Norwood in the fourth round of the 2014 draft and hardly used him before trading him at the start of this season to the Carolina Panthers.
How badly does he want to beat the Seahawks?
“How badly do I want to play?” Norwood responded rhetorically.
While he was able to laugh about it, the frustration was clear. Norwood has been inactive for all but one game this season and there’s no indication that will change this week.
With the Kelvin Benjamin injury fresh and questions in the receiving group, the Panthers traded a conditional late-round pick in the 2017 draft to Seattle to get Norwood in late August. The Alabama product had nine catches for 102 yards in limited time with the Seahawks in his rookie season, but the Panthers liked him in the pre-draft period for his sure hands.
Those hands would betray Norwood, though. On Sept. 20, in Week 2 against Houston, Cam Newton looked for Norwood inside the Houston 5 as the Panthers were driving in the second quarter.
Newton’s arm was hit as he threw, so the ball fluttered but still made its way to Norwood. Norwood got two hands on the ball but it deflected to a Houston defender for an interception.
Norwood said he thinks about that pass all the time.
“I think about what would it be like if I caught that pass,” Norwood said. “They told me it’s nothing to do with that. I believe them. But at the same time, for me, as a receiver, as a guy coming in trying to make a name for himself, it was a tough one.
“To be honest I don’t think it was in God’s plans. Any other time I would catch that ball. Any other time. It went straight through my hands. It wasn’t God’s timing.”
It’s something that’s clearly weighed on Norwood since that day. He’s been inactive 14 games and hasn’t really been close to getting a game-day jersey, nestled on the roster behind Brenton Bersin and Joe Webb, a versatile player who assumes emergency receiver duties along with his special teams duties.
“I really don’t know what to say about it. It just wasn’t God’s timing,” Norwood said. “That’s the best answer I have. I work my butt off for passes like that and it just went straight through. I got to let it go.”