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Matchup of the Game: ice vs. fire


*    A.J. Green is running away from the pack this season. *


Talk about two guys at the opposite end of the spectrum.

Green blows ice cool like a March wind with an NFL-best 50 catches and a second-best 775 yards.

 Norman is the next great cornerback who burns like a raging wildfire. He's the next great cornerback who talks like Chad Johnson, fights at the drop of a signing bonus, and has a Pro Bowl reach that has him tied for eighth in the NFL with five passes defensed.

It's a classic battle worthy of the storied Wembley Stadium pitch that hosts Sunday's game (9:30 a.m.-Cincinnati's FOX 19) pitting Cincinnati and Washington. That is, of course, if Norman plays. He was limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday with a concussion.

"He's a long corner. He's playing well," Green says. "He's physical. He can run."

If it sounds like a younger version of Cleveland's Joe Haden, an early Green nemesis, not so fast.

"Haden is different. Smaller, quicker," Green says. "But Josh has the size (6-1). He's long. He's got long arms. That's what you want in a corner."

Much was made of the opener when Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown strafed Washington and Norman stayed on his side instead of following Brown. Green sees a different strategy and expects Norman to be with him every step.

"I think he is. I think he is. I think that's what they pay him for and he's doing a good job," Green say of flipping sides. "He followed Marv (Jones) so we'll see."

Jones had four catches for 94 yards in Detroit's win last week and had Norman for giving up three catches on three targets. One was a 52-yarder to Jones and another 27-yarder to Lions wide receiver Golden Tait.

 And then there are the antics. Norman loves to get in your face, talk, and, bait you. When the Panthers played the Bengals two years ago, Norman was hurt and didn't play. The impassive Green does what he does more than catch the ball and that's shrug. He'll see what Norman has to offer in their first matchup.

"I don't get into that stuff. I let my game do the playing and do the talking. I just run back to the huddle – next play up," says Green, who figures that annoys them more. "Probably. I don't let anybody get in my head. At the end of the day you can't fight on the field and no need to get mad … I keep a level head on the field so I can perform at a high level."

He saw Norman's notorious dustup with Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. last year and that gets another shrug.

"To each his own. Some guys need that. Odell is a guy that's an emotional guy. He plays at a high level. That's what gets him going," Green said.

Green knows the best way to shut up a foe is to beat him a couple of times. He knows the best way to hear the chatter is to get beat. He doesn't expect that to happen very often.

They can do whatever they want after I beat them a couple of times. I don't care what they do, "Green said. " Fine, keep talking, because it's not going to be like that the whole game."

Ho-hum. Green made arguably the greatest catch of at least his pro career last week on that 48-yard touchdown on a Hail Mary on the last play of the half.. But Green can't even remember what he did with the ball.

"I think I gave it to the official," Green says. "I don't get caught up in that stuff. When I'm done playing then I can reminisce."

That's two TD balls he hasn't given to his month-old son

"He's going to have plenty more," Green says.

Let the contrast begin. Why not? On a storied soccer field hosting some pitch and catch.

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