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Steve Smith: ‘Not Hating,’ But Josh Norman is ‘Good, Not Great’

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Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman has already been named to the Pro Bowl and the AP's All-Pro First Team and some could argue his worth as the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year.

But not one of his former teammates:

Appearing on ESPN's Mike and Mike Friday morning, Ravens receiver Steve Smith, Sr. was asked why he rolled his eyes at the suggestion Norman could be the league's top defender.

"He's a good player, he's not a great player," Smith said. "I say he's not a great player because of longevity. This is his fourth year in the league. This is his first year starting 16 games.

"He also plays with phenomenal linebackers, a defensive line that's unbelievable and a secondary. So he is not the only reason or the sole reason that defensively, collectively they are awesome."

This is the third time in the past few weeks Norman's fast track to stardom has been questioned by an opposing receiver. Last month, Houston's DeAndre Hopkins and Atlanta's Roddy White made cracks about Norman's role as a cover-three corner.

According to Smith, Norman isn't even in the top-5 at his position. Smith's choices:

Darrelle Revis, Jets — "Still number one because he follows you. He doesn't get frustrated. He doesn't get mad if you go in motion. He goes with you."

Patrick Peterson, Cardinals and Richard Sherman, Seahawks — "Two or three, three or two depending on the year and what's going on with their team."

Chris Harris, Jr., Broncos — "You line up in the parking lot, he lines up right next to you. He's the handicap sticker."

Joe Haden, Browns — "When healthy."

When they were still teammates, Smith and Norman exchanged some barbs in the summer of 2012. After Norman, who was a rookie, bragged about his coverage on Smith during OTAs and minicamp, Smith shot back, "He's going to learn very quickly this isn't Coastal Carolina."

Three and a half years later, Smith still isn't all that impressed.

"I'm not hating on Josh Norman, but I'm looking at that whole defense, and he's not a player where if he went down, they couldn't function," Smith said.

"I would say a guy who should be probably in that category is the outstanding play of Thomas Davis. You have Luke Kuechly, obviously. But Thomas Davis is playing exceptional.

"That system in Carolina is built (where the) D-line needs to plug it up to let those linebackers run and the safeties and the corners are there for shell to help. That system is D-line and linebackers and if a linebacker goes down, you see that defense is not what it is."

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8 thoughts on “Steve Smith: ‘Not Hating,’ But Josh Norman is ‘Good, Not Great’”

  1. I agree with most of what he says about the scheme of the defense except that we could be fine without JNO. That would leave our corners as mcclain, finnegan, and who lou young or teddy williams. If anyone feels that secondary could take us to a super bowl, they are insane.

  2. Josh Norman is 1st team All Pro on a 15-1 team. 89 has had a great career but never done that. Panthers play at 1:00 on 1/17, Steve. Hope you can catch it on tv.

    1. Steve will make the Hall of Fame, and holds a Triple Crown…. And Steve is right, unlike Norman who has a great defense around him when Steve Smith put up his numbers he never had a good offence around him, mediocre quarterbacks, never a number two receiver, was double and triple covered for many seasons by opposing defences. Let’s see where Norman gets in a few more years.

  3. Steve will never accept that someone on the team is more important than he is/was.
    That’s exactly why the Panthers let him go. As valuable as he was as a receiver, he was a constant distraction. He COULD not permit the development of other players. The Panthers had to move on to get better.
    Wish him well in Baltimore.

    1. Steve asked for receiver help many times over in Carolina. He was very diplomatic in his statements regarding Josh Norman and I actually saw a segment on ESPN where he was praising him. Remember, he was on ESPN all day being asked questions about particular topics. He did not just volunteer this info. How was he a constant distraction?? That statement baffles me. He was the hardest worker on the team. What player did he slow down development of? Anyway, I wish he was still in Carolina but going to Baltimore has been the best thing for him. The move has opened him up to another fan base in Baltimore that loves him and recognizes how good he is, along with fans of the AFC North who realize what a force he is as well.
      Ultimately, the way things have transpired has gotten him closer to being a HOF candidate.

  4. I kind of agree with Steve on Josh not being great. But you can’t take away what he does because of the system he plays in and who he plays with. He still has to be effective in that system and he has been.
    And btw I remember seeing Josh cover Steve in a couple practices during Josh’s rookie training camp and Josh was doing his thing…and that was in man coverage…

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