CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden loves competition, even when it is provided by a close friend, and should he be healthy enough to play after suffering groin injury last week, he welcomes the opportunity to be on the field with Washington defensive back Josh Norman Sunday.
Considered among the best cornerbacks in the National Football League, Norman was traded to Washington from the Carolina Panthers in the offseason after earning Pro Bowl and All-Pro status with the reigning NFC Champions, and he has already registered 17 total tackles, seven passes defended and a forced fumble in three games this season.
“He’s one of my friends, a really good competitor,” Haden said of Norman. “I love watching great corner play, so definitely, I want to go. I want to go out and put my stuff up against what he's got going on, so it’s always about competing. I love to try to be the best corner on the field whenever I’m playing, so it would definitely be a good experience to be out there.”
Now in his fifth NFL season, Norman has defended 44 passes, intercepted seven throws, which he has returned for 172 yards and two touchdowns, forced five fumbles and registered 198 total tackles, 151 of which have been solo stops.
And to Haden, what makes Norman so effective are his pass defense skills and ability to be around the ball on nearly every play.
“He’s not afraid to tackle,” Haden said. “He’s going to throw his nose in there. He’s very good at press and the one thing I really like about his ball skills is he’s able to make plays on the ball in the air. I remember when we were playing against the Panthers a couple of years ago and out there in Charlotte, he made that interception. I was on the sidelines and saw it. He’s just…certain corners when the ball is in the air, they turn into the receiver.”
Although Haden will be busy defending against Washington’s wide receivers, he is very much looking forward to seeing Norman test his skills against Browns playmaker Terrelle Pryor.
“It would be a good matchup,” Haden said. “He’s a great corner against a great receiver. That’s what you look forward to, and I just think that would be a good matchup.”
When Pryor was not taking snaps at quarterback in a 30-24 overtime loss at the Miami Dolphins last Sunday, he posted career highs with seven receptions for 144 yards and rushed for 21 yards with one touchdown on four carries. He became the first player in the NFL with at least three passing attempts, three carries and three receptions in the same game since San Francisco’s Billy Kilmer accomplished the feat in 1964.
In addition to registering his first career 100-yard receiving game, Pryor became the first NFL player since Houston Texans wide receiver Cecil Shorts III, a Cleveland native, to have 20 or more yards rushing, receiving and passing in a single game.
“Terrelle, he’s a great player and he loves it,” Haden said. “He would do whatever he can for the team, and like I said before, last season, I’ve never seen an improvement from one player like I’ve seen from him being able to just…like the receiver.
“He’s a really, really good receiver. He could be a number one. He’s our number one right now, so just for him being able to transfer from a quarterback to a receiver, and then, being able to run the wildcat still, he can still throw. He’s a professional quarterback still, so not taking that from him. You don’t find athletes like him often.”