Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Thursday at the NFL scouting combine that Josh Norman’s age doesn’t give him pause about getting a long-term deal done with the All-Pro cornerback.
Norman, 28, will likely be franchise tagged within the next five days by the Panthers while they work on a long-term deal that could be four of five years. Norman’s in his prime now, and 32- or 33-year-old cornerbacks rarely are as effective in the NFL.
“No, not really because again, remember he didn’t play an awful lot earlier in his career,” Rivera said, referring to the mileage on Norman. “And then now he’s starting to play a lot. No I’m not concerned that he’s going to be a worn-down body or anything like that.
“I’m excited that (general manager) Dave (Gettleman) has talked about what they’re going to try to do and the direction they’re going to try and head with that whole situation. We’ll see how it all unfolds but I’m pretty optimistic.”
Also coming out of Rivera’s news conference Thursday:
▪ Rivera revealed that the team plans to try third-year cornerback Bené Benwikere at outside cornerback after he was primarily in the slot during his first two seasons in Carolina. Benwikere broke his leg in December but should be healthy for the start of the regular season.
▪ Middle linebacker Luke Kuechly had successful surgery on a partially torn labrum last week, and Rivera said the plan is to have Kuechly on the field by late July’s training camp.
▪ One piece of news this week that seemed to escape Rivera was the New York Yankees using quarterback Cam Newton as an example of how not to deal with the media.
The news broke late last week but didn’t make the rounds until early this week. Asked a question about the Yankees, Rivera said he hadn’t heard about it. Then it was explained to him.
“Well that’s their choice,” Rivera said. “If that’s what they want to show them then that’s fine. We’re just going to move on from that.”