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Josh Norman: 'It's been a long, long season'

Panthers cornerback Josh Norman got his bat back.

Though he cannot take the Panthers' ceremonial Bring The Wood baseball bat onto the field anymore, reports out of Carolina suggest it was nestled inside of his locker on Thursday. Call it symbolism. After his worst game of the season last Sunday against the Falcons, Panthers head coach Ron Rivera sought out Norman for a talk about keeping his edge. Norman was fined and placed under more intense scrutiny after a battle royal with Giants receiver Odell Beckham two weeks ago.

The bat, which reportedly caused Beckham to feel threatened, also had to go.

"Yeah, it's been a long, long season," Norman said, via ESPN.com. "A very long season, the amount of games we've played, everybody giving us their best shot. The media, always something.

"It's been a toll, man."

While Norman said he doesn't plan on curbing his antics, Rivera noted a calmer demeanor out of his lockdown cornerback during the week. He also thought it might not be the worst thing.

But against Tampa Bay this Sunday, Rivera will hope to see the same cornerback he's seen all season. It's difficult for Norman to find an acceptable common ground on the way he plays defense, but unfortunately he doesn't have much more time before the playoffs start. Tampa Bay wideout Mike Evans should be good practice.

If nothing else, Norman has the bat back and will carry it with him in spirit.

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