Panthers notebook: Norman says Sanders may need more practice


Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders raised some eyebrows when he said the Carolina Panthers' Josh Norman has "talked his way into the media" as one of the NFL's elite cornerbacks.

"I think you have to be pretty darn good at what you do to talk your way into this spotlight," Norman responded on Thursday.

"If you're not good, you're not recognised as one of the best. I don't know where he gets that from. I haven't been hearing much about him, so obviously he may want to go back and practice some more."

Norman said he was unsurprised by Sanders' comment, adding the media is trying to perpetuate the verbal barbs.

"Those are wide receivers," Norman added.

"If they didn't think they weren't the best and nobody could stop them, they wouldn't be doing their job. And if I don't think there's nobody I can't cover, I wouldn't be doing mine. But I don't really care, man. We'll see those guys on Sunday.

"He's a good player. I don't take anything away from him. You don't have over 1,000 yards for nothing. That accounts for something."

The Panthers will play the Broncos in Super Bowl 50 on Sunday at Levi's Stadium.

Taking it all in: Cam Newton knows he has a job to do. That does not mean he is not enjoying the Super Bowl.

"Half of me tries to be as professional as possible, but the human in me wants to take it all in," the Panthers quarterback said. "Of course, you're still preparing for a team. But all the festivities and leading up to, it's hard not to take it all in.

"It's a dream come true and hopefully we are prepared come Sunday."

With Coldplay joined by Beyonce and Bruno Mars at half-time, Newton said he joked with Panthers coach Ron Rivera about letting the team out of the locker room early for the second half so the players "can see Beyonce".

The Panthers have been a fairly loose group all season and Rivera deserves some of the credit for allowing his players to be themselves.

"Stay true to who we are so we don't get uptight about the little things," Rivera said. "When we get on the football field, then we can focus on what we need to do."

Nothing prototypical about playmakers: Newton is one of the NFL's largest quarterbacks and will likely be named league MVP on Saturday. Despite his size, Newton is also one of the league's most athletic quarterbacks. He said too much is made about prototypical size and other tangibles. He cited Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller as two players undersized for their positions, but are still among the NFL's best at their positions.

"That's just one of many reasons why playmakers should stand alone outside of the prototypical tangibles for a player," Newton said. 

Maturation of Norman: Rivera said Norman came into the NFL as a fifth-round draft pick in 2012 as a confident, yet cocky, player who took too many chances on the field. Since then, Norman has matured and developed into one of the NFL's top cover corners who now better understands route concepts. Rivera said Norman's understanding and maturation are two of the more important factors that have led to him being in the discussion for the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year.

Full circle: Rivera said his career has "come full circle" since growing up in California and playing football at Cal and now being back in the area as a coach in the Super Bowl. He's been able to visit his family, who still live in the area, and meet with old friends and team-mates.

"Just being in the area is kind of neat," Rivera said. "It's great to be close. This has been a nice little opportunity."

Dogging the Panthers: Rapper Snoop Dogg represented the Rich Eisen Show during Thursday's media availability for both teams. He was the first to ask Newton a question during his news conference and sang a little bit with the Panthers quarterback.

The rapper interviewed several Panthers players, even offensive lineman Mike Remmers. Others to get the ear of Snoop were linebackers Thomas Davis and Shaq Thompson, defensive end Kony Ealy, wide receiver Corey Brown and Norman.