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Redskins CB Josh Norman rebounds against ex-team

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Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman faced a wave of adversity leading up to Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers.

Norman was benched in the second half of a Week 5 blowout loss to the New Orleans Saints after wearing headphones in the locker room during halftime while a coach was addressing the team. He also allowed a long touchdown in the first half.

So, the biggest question heading into a game against his former team was how Norman would respond to his week of misfortune.

Norman let his play do the talking for him with five tackles (four solo) to go along with an interception and a forced fumble. The impact plays helped stake Washington a 17-point lead before the Redskins held on for a 23-17 win.

"It was great to see," Washington head coach Jay Gruden told reporters afterward. "The thing got popped up in the media somehow -- I don't know how or where it came from -- but Josh and I, we swept it under the rug right after it happened. It was great to see him play well against his former team. I know it meant a lot to him. His forced fumble, interception, had some good tackles, so I'm happy for Josh."

It also helped that Gruden and Norman worked out their differences earlier in the week, providing the opportunity for the team to enter game preparations free of drama.

"Everything was smoothed over after the fact, anyway," Norman said. "That was something that happened on Monday and today is Sunday. And we already got better from that, everyone that was involved."

Still, Norman, who has faced criticism over the years, admitted the past week was unlike past instances of negative commentary.

"This week was a little bit different; I'm not going to lie," Norman said. "People came from everywhere, fan base, I was just like, 'Gosh.' Checked my phone every time there was an alert or something, it was just the weirdest thing ever. And it's like I'm playing cornerback versus everybody, not just the opposing team, but the outside team and the noise of just everything."

Norman told reporters he was able to shut out the distractions by retreating to his home, a place he called "La Grande Evasion," and refocus on the task at hand of helping the team secure a win armed with trust between him and teammates.

"Regardless of what they say or what anyone else says, we going to do us," Norman said. "And we going to do us in a way in which we are going to come out and be better each and every time we step out on the football field. If they have my back and I got their back and they can trust in me and I can trust in them, then that's all that matters."

Norman's rebound from controversy helped the Redskins improve to 3-2 and move into first place in the NFC East, a half-game ahead of the Dallas Cowboys (3-3).

And that his impactful performance came against the Panthers, a team that allowed him leave via free agency in 2016, made it even sweeter despite the past and continued relationships.

"Every time we play those guys, it's always satisfaction if I can do that," Norman said. "But all in all, those guys, they know how I feel about them. I know how they feel about me and that's the thing. It's just going out there and playing them."

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