Late round draft picks only get one chance to make a first impression and rookie Richard Crawford made a strong opening argument for a spot on the Redskins roster Thursday night in Buffalo.Crawford notched a tackle, a drive-extinguishing interception and defended a pass, building on a strong first two weeks of training camp thats already opened eyes on the coaching staff.Its important to just to play well every time youre out there, Crawford said outside the visitors locker room at Ralph Wilson Stadium. But especially a guy like me, a seventh rounder.The 22-year-old also returned three punts for a total of 42 yards, including a pair of 17-yard run backs and an eight yard return.I actually do a pretty good job of looking downfield before I get the return and feeling who is around me, Crawford said. I knew I had room. My returning is rule is: always make the first guy miss and make something happen, and thats what I did.Crawford is a versatile 5-11, 188 pounder out of SMU who boasts sure hands, decent speed and a strong work ethic that has endeared him to coaches.Listed on the Redskins most recent depth chart as the No. 3 left cornerback behind DeAngelo Hall and Cedric Griffin, Crawford is slowly progressing from training camp hopeful to a player solidly in the mix to earn a roster spot.Hes competing with Brandyn Thompson, David Jones, Travon Bellamy and Morgan Trent for a backup cornerback job.Im just trying to improve and learn from D-Hall, Josh Wilson, Ced, anybody I can, even Brandon Banks with the returns, Crawford said. Any way I can learn and get better, I will.
Josh Norman is great talker. He almost always has something provocative to say, and his Bleacher Report interview published Thursday didn't buck the trend.
Norman's sneering at NFC East receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Dez Bryant drew immediate, look-what-he-just-said attention.
But let's not gloss over the larger theme of this interview: Norman thinks the NFL is headed down the wrong path. The timid path.
In his five seasons, the Redskins corner has been on the receiving end of flags and fines for taunting and excess contact. And yet he told Bleacher Report that he's never once met commissioner Roger Goodell.
Asked how he would handle the commissioner job differently, Norman started with interpersonal basics.
"First, I would change how I handle people. For one, you don't show up anywhere. You don't show up where the players show up. So how are you going to know what they want?"
"If this is the guy who is your commissioner, who makes all these rules, wouldn't you think you'd want to see him other than when you get in trouble?" he continued. "Why would I see you if I'm in trouble—what's the point? Why wouldn't I see you before then so you can eliminate that?"
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But Norman's criticism morphed from finding fault with Goodell to dissatisfaction with the overall evolution of the league.
You're going to recognize this argument. It starts with defensive players lamenting how NFL rules have moved to limit contact, turning guys timid.
"Now you have to stop and think about it before you actually hit somebody or you're going to get fined," Norman said. "But where's the offense getting fined?"
Then comes the nostalgia for the old days when football players were tough, as opposed to today, when everyone is Mary's little lamb.
"Playing the way people used to play it in the old days. Like Mike Haynes. Those kinds of guys. Lester Hayes. People who played it with violence and ruthlessness," Norman said when asked what kind of legacy he wants to leave. "Lockjaw. No pussyfooting around. No inching off. None of that softness."
It's that soft mindset of the modern world that's diluting football, and the young guys are part of the problem.
"We have too many soft guys, too many guys coming up saying, 'I don't know....' Playing their little off, soft technique," he complained. "That's how the soft mind-set of this world has us thinking now."
This line of reasoning should be very familiar so far, but most that espouse it stop short of saying what they're going to do about it.
"You can't touch guys after five yards. ... Screw that! Hands on. Call it if you call it. So what. You're going to have to call it all game."
"I want him to see me with my hands in his face. That's what I want you to see. In their chest, their breast plate, so they cough up air. They skip a beat in their heart kind of thing," Norman said.
So ... expect some rule-stretching this season? Perhaps against NFC East opponents?
"Trust me when I tell you, it's going to be bad blood this year," he warned. "There's going to be a lot of fines and maybe some suspensions. I'm going to be honest with you: This s--- is going to get really ugly. Because I do have a safety that don't give a f--- and I definitely don't."
"I'm letting all hell break loose."
Well, then. Noted. We'll let the league – and the Redskins – decide how to feel about this plan.
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NFC East opponents don't challenge Josh Norman. Dez Bryant and Odell Beckham, Jr. are fake tough, no real threat to him. Not like some other receivers in the NFL.
At least that's how the Redskins corner described them in a wide-ranging interview with Bleacher Report published on Thursday.
The gist? The Cowboys and Giants stars get no respect from Norman, though both were involved in memorable feuds with him the past year.
Norman got his first opportunity to talk trash when asked to do word association with the name "Dez Bryant." He took the opening and returned it for a touchdown.
"That's a guy. Just a guy. Dez was Dez in 2012, '13, '14. Maybe '14. Now? He's a guy," Norman said.
"He doesn't 'wow' you. For me, he don't. For other guys, he probably will do the worst to them because he'll bully them. But you can't bully a bully. You know what I'm saying? That's why his game doesn't resonate to me."
To jog your memory, Norman and Bryant went at it after the Cowboys beat the Redskins on Thanksgiving last year. Bryant said Washington should get a refund on Norman's contract. There was also drama about whether Norman falsely accused Bryant of threatening to "unload the clip" on him.
Real mature, substantive conflict.
The Redskins corner didn't go any easier on Beckham, who of all receivers in the league has had the most explosive run-ins with Norman.
In fact, Beckham's helmet-to-helmet hit on Norman in a 2015 contest between the Giants and Panthers led the NFL to change rules for ejections. Beckham had racked up three unnecessary roughness penalties in that game.
"[Beckham] tries to be a tough guy. He tries to put on this persona which he's not. Because he's always going to have his head on a swivel. Always. Always when we play each other," Norman said, suggesting that he's able to push OBJ over the edge and out of control.
"He's scary like that. He does things that he normally wouldn't do because of all the pressure and added hype that he has to put on his whole persona. He's not this guy. If you go back and watch the games in which we play compared to the games we don't play each other, he's a totally different guy."
"When people get physical, tough, like the Minnesota game, he acts out. He's a kid. He's a big kid, man," Norman concluded.
It must have been an exercise in restraint not to mention OBJ's kicking-net tantrum after losing to the Redskins last year.
As the interview moved on, there wasn't a receiver that drew respect from Norman until the name Julio Jones came up. Norman got to see the Falcons receiver twice a year when he played for Carolina in the NFC South.
"Now, that is the ultimate challenge. That's when I can do things in a split-second, a millisecond, just choo-choo-choo," Norman said of facing Jones. He said he's missed that challenge since moving to the NFC East.
"It's the worst. Because I'm just battling 'guys.' I'm not battling against something I can call 'greatness.' I'm not enhancing my craft. Don't get me wrong. They're tough. But they're not [Jones]," he said. He also named Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown and Chicago's Alshon Jeffrey as other receivers who could provide a real test.
But whether those matchups excite Norman or not, he knows they can't touch the hype of NFC East showdowns, especially ones involving Beckham.
"That game gets so hyped up by the time we play them, it won't even be Giants vs. Washington—it'll be me and him. ... Because now you have us on Thanksgiving Night. C'mon, man!"
The interview ended with Norman looking forward to playing with new Redskins safety DJ Swearinger, who has a reputation as a hard-hitting intimidator.
"Trust me when I tell you, it's going to be bad blood this year. You think the NFC East didn't like each other before? This year right here? There's going to be a lot of fines and maybe some suspensions. I'm going to be honest with you: This s--- is going to get really ugly. Because I do have a safety that don't give a f--- and I definitely don't. And I know they don't have that many people on the offense who do on their side."
"I'm letting all hell break loose."
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