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Redskins Playbook: Shadow coverage, and more, in play for Josh Norman in 2017

Redskins Playbook: Shadow coverage, and more, in play for Josh Norman in 2017

Josh Norman came to Washington last season with the reputation as the best cornerback in the NFL. He played well his first year with the Redskins, but statistically, his numbers weren't enough to get to the Pro Bowl.

A number of would-be interceptions slipped through Norman's fingers, seemingly every week, and his play outpaced his INT total. Still, especially early in the year, it seemed the Redskins weren't maximizing Norman's value. 

Never was that more apparent than the first two weeks of the season when the Redskins got burnt by Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown and Dallas' Dez Bryant. Former Redskins defensive coordinator Joe Barry insisted that Norman not shadow the opposition's best wideout. Eventually, that strategy changed, but not until much damage was inflicted. 

With Greg Manusky now in charge of the 'Skins defense, will Norman travel with the other team's best receiver? 

"Will we do that? Yeah," Manusky said last week after an OTA session.

Manusky explained that it's "important" to allow corners to travel with certain receivers, but he also won't demand it if a player isn't comfortable. The full answer made clear that the Redskins won't force Norman to move with wideouts, but at the same time, expect the $75 million corner to have more opportunities to make plays. 

"I think just from a football perspective, he feels it and he knows it," Manusky said of Norman. "And I think they’re the players that you want on the field and that’s what he has. He has that feel for it, and when the ball is coming out, he can break on it."

That could mean more off-man coverage for Norman, allowing him to watch the offense develop more than press coverage allows. 

"In a situation with Josh, we’re trying to play him a little bit off and have vision and see the quarterback, man-to-man situations and in zones, [it’s] something that he’s I think been taught a little bit before but some of that is a little bit different, and he’s made some plays," Manusky said. 

Think back through the Redskins 16 games last season, and Norman easily could have doubled his interception total just by hanging on to a few more footballs. He's an elite athlete, and it would not be crazy to think that total will jump in 2017. 

Manusky seems ready to let Norman make plays, which suits a playmaker.

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ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

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Terrelle Pryor reportedly working out with special glasses based on Antonio Brown's advice

Terrelle Pryor reportedly working out with special glasses based on Antonio Brown's advice

New Redskins receiver Terrelle Pryor has been working out with Steelers All-Pro Antonio Brown this offseason. 

The pair documented their receiving drills, ladder drills and even yoga on social media. But what you didn't see, according to ESPN's John Keim, is Pryor practicing with special glasses that Brown recommended. 

Based on Brown’s advice, Pryor has also worn special sunglasses during offseason workouts, designed to prevent him from seeing an object – in this case the ball – until it is almost upon him. Sometimes he takes his gloves off, just to get a feel for the ball with his hands.

The glasses Keim describes sound more like blinders, or even tunnel vision, but the idea is to help Pryor get an instinctive feel for running routes. 

Despite putting up 1,007 receiving yards with the Browns last year, Pryor has only played the position since 2015. His first four seasons in the NFL were spent trying to make a roster playing quarterback. 

Now penciled into a starting receiver role for the Redskins, he knows he has a lot of catching up to do. 

"The good ones, they ask questions and never think they’ve got it. They always want to learn," Pryor said, "I’m not calling myself a great one, but I think I can get there."

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins Playbook: Some good news for Kirk Cousins

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Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

The Redskins offense performed at a high level in 2016, moving the ball well though the unit struggled in the red zone. Much of the success comes from Kirk Cousins' ability to quickly advance through his progressions and release the football before he takes too many hits.

Expect more of that in 2017, especially early in the season.

The Redskins don't face their first Top 5 sack defense until Week 9 when they travel to Seattle. From there, Cousins will face another Top 5 sack team when the Vikings visit FedEx Field in Week 10. 

After that, Washington's schedule doesn't feature a Top 5 sack defense until nearly Christmas. Unfortunately for Cousins, those two teams will come back to back in December when the Redskins host the Cardinals and the Broncos.

Sacks should not drive too much worry for Redskins fans. The Washington offensive line only allowed 23 sacks last season, two less than the Cowboys vaunted offensive line gave up on Dak Prescott. Cousins quick release and mastery of Jay Gruden's offense helps too. 

The Redskins have plenty to worry about in 2017, though facing fierce sack opponents shouldn't be too high on the list. 

<<<NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT>>>

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!

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back