On Thursday, Norman spoke to reporters for the first time since. Beside him in the locker room was his luggage, packed and ready to board the airplane for a seven-hour overnight flight to London, where the Redskins’ No. 1 cornerback hopes to join his teammates for Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals (3-4) at Wembley Stadium if a doctor gives a final clearance.
“If I get to get out there, I’m gonna put everything I got into it,” Norman said, insisting he felt fine. “That’s what good players do. Great players want to come out and see the great players rise up to the challenge.”
Tight end Jordan Reed, who is recovering from the fifth diagnosed concussion of his career, will also be on the flight. Like Norman, he was cleared to make the overseas trip and practice on a limited basis beforehand. But neither has the green light to play Sunday, although Redskins Coach Jay Gruden said that it’s possible, barring a setback.
“They’re good to go as far as going on the trip,” Gruden said Thursday following the team’s final practice, held in the indoor facility at Redskins Park, before boarding the flight. “But we still have to monitor them and their behavior. We’ll have them practice tomorrow in London, and then we’ll have to gauge and see if they’re able enough to go.”
Running back Matt Jones apparently is further behind in his recovery from a knee injury that was only disclosed Wednesday, 72 hours after Sunday’s 20-17 loss to Detroit, in which he fumbled twice and gave the ball away on the Lions’ 2-yard line, costing the Redskins (4-3) a likely touchdown. Jones didn’t practice Thursday, a second consecutive day, so it’s unlikely that he’ll play Sunday.
Gruden didn’t rule out Jones, described it as a “wait and see” situation. NFL teams have until 90 minutes before kickoff to announce their seven inactive players.
Jones, who didn’t have any bandage or brace on either knee as he did limited footwork drills under a trainer’s supervision on the side of the field, declined to speak to reporters for a second consecutive day. If he doesn’t play Sunday, rookie Rob Kelley will shoulder the lead-back duties. Chris Thompson will retain his role as the featured third-down back.
Reed suffered his latest concussion in the Oct. 9 victory at Baltimore but didn’t report his symptoms for two days.
Norman said that despite the hard hit he took against Detroit, he felt fine Monday and Tuesday. He can remember the sequence of events leading up to the concussion — his arms entangled with those of wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. His next memory is of rolling over and seeing faces.
“I was out. Came back to life and saw these guys-over-me kind of thing. That was an experience,” Norman recounted. “Blessed nothing else happened in that whole thing that went down. God gave me strength to battle back and overcome. And now I’m here practicing with teammates, and all my limbs are good.”
Norman acknowledged he had “a little setback” Wednesday, the day he resumed practice on a limited basis, but noted that that’s “normal.” Wednesday night, he got a text from the Redskins’ director of football operations telling him to bring his packed bags to Redskins Park on Thursday so tjat he would be prepared to board the flight if he were cleared.
Norman missed two games as a Carolina Panther in 2014 after suffering a concussion when he was hit in the back of the helmet by a knee. In 2015, he suffered a concussion in the Panthers’ preseason finale but didn’t miss a game, with 10 days to heal before the regular season opener.
Norman said he relished a matchup with Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green, whom he called “a phenomenal talent.”
“I don’t want to miss this for nothing — obviously get an opportunity to play a top-five receiver, top-three receiver,” Norman said. “Who wants to sit out for that? Not me. Not I. I want to see what that looks like. That’s kind of how my mind-set is.”
Yet he acknowledged the potential rigor of the long flight and the importance of his long-term health.
“Going up in the air for eight hours, that’ll be the tell-tale,” Norman said with a chuckle, adding that he would do everything he could to sleep through it.
“We definitely feel fine today,” he said. “Game day, we’ll see how things go with that. … Got to be mindful to that, extremely careful. You don’t want to rush yourself back.”
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