EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The much-anticipated Josh Norman-Odell Beckham Jr. rematch is still more than a week away, but the war of words has already begun.
Two of Beckham's teammates -- Victor Cruz and Janoris Jenkins -- took shots at Norman, the new Redskins cornerback, for not covering Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antonio Brown in Washington's season-opening loss on Monday night. It seemed like a logical matchup -- Norman, one of the best corners in the league, against Brown, perhaps the league's best receiver.
But it didn't happen, Norman said, because that's the way the coaches drew up the game plan. The Giants, though, believe that with all the talking Norman has done, that's not a good enough excuse.
"I think when you're paying somebody 70 mil, there shouldn't be no game plan,'' Jenkins said. "The game plan should be: 'You're on this guy.' That's what it is.''
Said Cruz: "Especially if he calls himself -- I don't call him this, he calls himself this -- the best corner in the league, then you have to cover the best receivers on the other team. Going in I thought he was going to follow AB all over the place, but he didn't, so it is what it is. He made his choice.''
And yes, Cruz insisted, it was Norman's "choice.
"It's always his choice,'' Cruz said. "He can go to the powers that be and say, 'Hey, I want to cover this guy.' And if they say no, if maybe he did that and they said no, then I'll have to eat my words. But for the most part you can go and make that request, I'm sure."
Cruz made this much clear: He expects Norman to make that request before the Redskins play the Giants on Sept. 25. Norman and Beckham, of course, engaged in a memorable, ugly battle late last season when Norman was with the Carolina Panthers. They were locked up one-on-one and their duel got so violent that Beckham was flagged for three personal fouls and later hit with a one-game suspension. The two of them then engaged in a war of words that continued all offseason long.
Cruz basically dared Norman to cover Beckham next weekend. While he acknowledged Norman wasn't given the top assignment against the Steelers, he said "He didn't get into fisticuffs with those guys last year either, so it's a little bit different.
"I'm sure he will (cover Beckham)," Cruz added. "I'm sure he doesn't have to. I'm sure it's already spoken for in his mind. I'd be a little surprised, yeah, given the circumstances, if he doesn't follow Odell around the field. I'd be a little surprised, to be honest."