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Norman catches former CB Bailey’s eye

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CHARLOTTE — Champ Bailey knows all about getting paid. The future Hall-of-Fame cornerback earned two contracts that at the time made him the highest-paid player at his position.

After retiring in October 2014, Bailey joined FOX NFL Kickoff this fall. His assignment this week — head to Charlotte and find out more about Carolina Panthers corner Josh Norman. Even before their chat, Bailey was a believer.

“No doubt,” Bailey said when asked if Norman deserved a big payday. “If it just started this year, then I’d be reluctant, I’d say show me more. But this goes back into last year.

“To have a whole offseason to prepare and come out and match up against the best guys and hold your own and still be rated the top corner in the game? No doubt, he should be paid as the top corner in the game.”

That’s high praise from Bailey, one of the best cornerbacks ever, a guy who made 12 Pro Bowls, the most for a defensive back. It took Norman four seasons, but he appears a lock for his first.

When quarterbacks began to realize throwing Norman’s way was a bad idea, they stopped. On Monday, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck was the first to challenge Norman downfield in his past three games. Matched up for most of the night with T.Y. Hilton, Norman held the Colts’ top wideout to a season-low one reception for 15 yards.

The scary part for offenses — and some owner’s future checkbook — is Norman has room to improve.

“There’s no doubt that he can get better. He just needs to stay healthy, stay on the grind, keep his nose down,” Bailey said. “Don’t read the headlines and do the work and it will pay off.”

–Head coach Ron Rivera is now 15-16-1 in games decided by a touchdown or less. That number used to be 2-14.

–The Panthers have allowed just 15 points in the first quarter this season, second-fewest in the NFL behind the Broncos, who haven’t give up a point. Denver shut out Green Bay in the first quarter last week. The Packers still lead the league in first-quarter scoring with a 9.4 average.

Notes: Center Ryan Kalil (ankle) was at Wednesday’s very light practice in a walking boot. If Kalil misses his second straight game, Fernando Velasco will get another start. … Left guard Andrew Norwell (hamstring) stayed inside Wednesday. Head coach Ron Rivera said Norwell tweaked his hamstring “pretty good” and he appears doubtful to play against the Packers. Amini Silatolu would start in his place. … Norman (illness) was sent home early Wednesday when he showed up feeling sick. There isn’t much of a concern about his status for Sunday. … Defensive end Mario Addison (shoulder) is expected to miss a second straight game. … Defensive tackle Dwan Edwards (ankle) may be out at least another week with a high ankle sprain. … Linebacker Shaq Thompson (knee) should be able to return this week after sitting out the Panthers’ past two games.


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