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Josh Norman says with new Redskins defense, 'Everything is about football, nothing else'

Josh Norman says with new Redskins defense, 'Everything is about football, nothing else'

In 2016, the Redskins defense struggled, ranking near the bottom in a number of categories. Their third down defense landed among historic lows, and besides sacks, no position group can claim they performed particularly well. 

The Redskins biggest addition last season was the arrival of Josh Norman. He played well, though he missed a number of interceptions and racked up an inordinate amount of penalties. 

Norman's arrival brought with it a lot of attention, as his release from his franchise tag with the Panthers came via unusual circumstances. His rivalry with Odell Beckham also carried a lot of visibility, and it seemed almost from the start, Norman was working to adjust to life with a new team while figuring out a new system.

Last week, Norman said he thought 2016 was his best season as a pro because he proved he wasn't a system guy like some claimed of his success in Carolina. Norman, though, believes the 2017 Redskins will be much better than last year's version.

"We're building something great, small steps first. We got guys that are really actually in the thick of things. Lockjaw. Dogs," Norman said (full video above). "Everything is about football, nothing else. That's what you need."

MORE REDSKINS: HERE'S WHAT THE NEW DB'S COACH IS DOING DIFFERENTLY  

Listening to Norman, it's easy to think about all of the distractions that popped up for him and the Redskins this time last year. This offseason, the franchise invested heavily in the defense.

The team used their first three draft picks on defensive players for the first time in 20 years, and took a defensive lineman in the first round for the first time in 20 years. D.J. Swearinger arrived via free agency, and he could be a big piece in stabilizing the secondary.

"He brings that attitude to our defense," Norman said of Swearinger. 

Already on the practice fields, it seems Swearinger is shouting out coverages and play design pre-snap more than last year's safeties did. Pro Football Focus rated Swearinger as the 8th best safety in the NFL last season. Will Blackmon was the Redskins highest rated safety in 2016, and he ranked 29th. No knock on Blackmon, as he was converting from corner to safety anyway.

It's easy to be optimistic in June, but Norman seems genuine thinking this defense could be different. With Swearinger, and Zach Brown at linebacker and rookie Jonathan Allen up front, the Redskins defense has new horses from the front to the back in the interior. That should help.

For Norman though, it's the work ethic that stands out. No defensive player missed a single voluntary OTA session, and the from the first team to the third team, the group seems engaged and fired up on the sidelines.

"Nothing but football, eat, sleep, drink it. We got guys that are hungry," Norman said. "You look for those guys that want to prove something, because when you have those guys, man, the sky’s the limit, you can do whatever you want to do."

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Redskins vs. Packers Preseason Live Updates: Week 2 score, stats, highlights, analysis

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Redskins vs. Packers Preseason Live Updates: Week 2 score, stats, highlights, analysis

Week 2 of the NFL preseason is here as the Redskins take on the Packers on Saturday night.

Following the Redskins' 23-3 loss to the Ravens in Week 1, Kirk Cousins and the Redskins starters will look to continue their development again against Green Bay. Head coach Jay Gruden plans to play the starters for at least a full quarter.

The Redskins-Packers preseason game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. ET at FedEx Field in Landover, Md. and will be aired on CSN Mid-Atlantic. Redskins Kickoff begins a 6:30 p.m. ET, as Chick Hernandez, Brian Mitchell and Trevor Matich get your prepared for the game with 60 minutes of pregame coverage. (Channel Finder)

CSN Mid-Atlantic is here to provide all the live updates, stats, score, highlights, video and analysis from the Redskins and Ravens. If you have a comment about the game, be sure to leave a comment in the section below the article.

REDSKINS VS. PACKERS WEEK 2 PRESEASON LIVE UPDATES

6:50 PM - Get excited, Redskins fans:

6:45 PM - And it's official:

6:30 PM - We'll just leave this right here:

5:10 PM - Preseason games are what they are: Not all that great after the first quarter. But there's value in the games. Here are the three things you should be watching for.

5:05 PM - I implore you to follow me on Twitter. I'm great. You can also follow Our @CSNRedskins account, which is equally great. Our Redskins Insiders JP Finlay and Rich Tandler are OK too. 

5:00 PM - The 2017 NFL preseason rolls on as the Redskins take on the Packers in Week 2 of the preseason at FedEx Field. As is the case again this season, I am Troy Machir, and I will be guiding you through the live blog of tonight's preseason game.

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Preseason Week 2 Redskins vs Packers; 3 things to watch

Preseason Week 2 Redskins vs Packers; 3 things to watch

Remember that playoff game at the end of the 2015 season? Or the Sunday Night Football rout from last year? Well, Saturday night when the Redskins take on the Packers in the second game of the preseason, much less will be on the line, but that doesn't mean the game doesn't have plenty to watch.

All the coverage starts at 6:30 p.m. on CSN, and will feature a 1-on-1 interview where Jay Gruden explains exactly what he's looking for from his team. The first preseason game in Baltimore was a poor showing for the Redskins, and Gruden wants to see his squad look much better at home against Green Bay. The weather looks perfect for an August evening, and here are three things to keep in mind in advance of the contest. 

  1. They're gonna play - Last season, Gruden unexpectedly sat many of his starters for the second preseason game. The move set off mild chaos, especially when Colt McCoy got the start over Kirk Cousins. It was just the coach resting players, reducing the risk of a preseason injury, but it was a big surprise. And it was also probably a mistake. This year, Gruden made clear the starters will play in the second preseason game, and Cousins will start against Green Bay. The starting offense only took six snaps against the Ravens last week, and generated zero first downs. While the first downs are no guarantee, expect the first unit to play more than six snaps, likely at least double, and some offensive production should follow suit.
  2. Well, not everybody - The long wait for Redskins fans to finally see Junior Galette on the field will continue. The pass rush specialist hasn't played since 2014, and has never suited up for Washington. He won't play Saturday night, and neither will star tight end Jordan Reed. A few others will likely miss the game, but many eyes will be on Josh Doctson. After a slight hamstring injury suffered in Richmond, the second-year wideout missed the Ravens game and a number of practices before getting back out there Thursday and catching a few passes from Cousins in team drills. Gruden said of Doctson, "we’ll get a look at him during pregame warmup and see where he stands and try to get him out there. We’ll see." On the Green Bay side, Aaron Rodgers is not expected to play either.
  3. The other side - Much of the focus has been on the offense needing to perform, particularly the run game. Keep in mind, however, the Redskins defense performed well in Baltimore. Greg Manusky's unit will look to keep the strong work going, especially from the first team. One change on the Redskins defense: free agent addition Zach Brown will move into the starting lineup and play alongside Mason Foster as the two interior linebackers. That means 2016 defensive captain Will Compton starts the game on the bench. Preston Smith should also be back on the field and starting opposite Ryan Kerrigan; Smith missed the Ravens game with a sprained ankle. No word yet on rookie linebacker Ryan Anderson, who suffered a stinger in Baltimore. Gruden on Anderson, "we’re going to let him dress in pregame warmup on Saturday and see where he is. He has total mobility now back, I think he’s fine, but we just want to make sure he has strength back."

News and notes:

  • Saturday marks the eighth time the Redskins and Packers have played in the preseason since 1961. In regular season and postseason play, the Packers hold a 20-15-1 record against the Redskins. 
  • In their last two meetings, the Redskins rocked the Pack 42-24 last November on Sunday Night Football. It was the high point of Washington's season, as the 'Skins skidded from there and missed the playoffs, losing four of their final six games. 10 months earlier, the Packers knocked the Redskins out of the playoffs in almost equally one-sided fashion. The game was early, but Green Bay proved to be too tough for Washington, and the Redskins lost on their home turf after a surprising NFC East title run. 

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Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcasts, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!