Carolina Panthers

Panthers’ Josh Norman has confidence on corner

Panthers coach Ron Rivera believes cornerback Josh Norman needs more confidence if he’s going to apply his training camp successes to the regular season.

Norman doesn’t think he’ll have any trouble with that.

“My confidence is always high,” he said Sunday afternoon. “Never do I ever think I am the lowest on anyone’s totem pole. Never do I think anyone’s going to take me over the top and just whoop my tail the whole entire day. I’m always going to be over the top. I’m going to be that dominant guy, regardless of what anybody else says or thinks.”

In his third year, Norman has put together two great training camps, but he has never been able to reproduce the same success come autumn. With two practices under his belt after battling a hamstring injury, Norman is trying to no longer be known as just a training camp star.

“I feel way better. I feel a lot more confident, comfortable in what we’re supposed to do,” he said. “I learned a lot in (organized team activities) and just translated that into my game. Just making plays, going out there and doing what I can do. Just finding a play and making it.”

Norman stripped Tiquan Underwood of a deep pass from Derek Anderson during team drills Sunday for his lone highlight so far in camp. But history says he should have at least one big day in Spartanburg.

He had four interceptions during one practice in his 2012 rookie season. He played in every game that season and started 12, but he constantly was picked on by Eli Manning during 36-7 loss to the Giants in Week 3 and had just one interception all season.

Last year he made a one-handed interception falling backward, catching the ball with his left hand on an end zone fade route. Norman also had two interceptions during an exhibition.

At Buffalo in Week 2, he made the most crucial error of his young career. Cornerback D.J. Moore signaled him to switch on a route during the final seconds of the game, but Norman didn’t receive the call. That left wide receiver Stevie Johnson wide open in the end zone for the winning touchdown.

Norman, who said he has moved on from the play, would be inactive for 10 of Carolina’s next 15 games.

“Just being a high-caliber athlete, we’re not here to sit on the sideline and collect a check,” Norman said. “We’re here to play. And that’s why we here, that’s why we were drafted.”

He’s getting an opportunity to play in Spartanburg. Rivera finally is able to rotate the cornerbacks like he wants to with Norman and Josh Thomas (back) healthy again.

Second-year player Melvin White and new Panther Antoine Cason have taken the majority of first-team reps at cornerback, with Charles Godfrey and Bene’ Benwikere getting looks but primarily at nickel.

Norman said he likes the competition at cornerback, and Rivera wants to see the former Coastal Carolina standout play like he usually does in August.

“He’s a young guy that came from a small program and I think part of it is his confidence,” Rivera said. “When he gets his confidence and he’s playing with confidence, he’s pretty doggone good.”

What Norman isn’t confident about is if he has the most confidence on the team. He’s not sure if he edges out quarterback Cam Newton in that category.

“But you got to be, man,” Norman said. “You look at the likes of the top corners in the league – (Richard) Sherman and Patrick Peterson – you got to think about it. They’re on an island. They’re going to be confident. They have to be.

“If they get whooped on every play, they’re not going to be out there long. You have to have that. And if you don’t, then that’s on you.”