Mutual respect between Steve Smith and Josh Norman, for now

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Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith and Washington cornerback Josh Norman have shared plenty of words over the years, beginning with their days as teammates with the Panthers.

But though Smith was the one doing most of the talking then, and Norman has become the focal point these days, the two are taking a low-key approach to this weekend’s meeting between their current Baltimore and Washington teams.

I don’t know why he’d match up with me – old-ass receiver – so, I mean, I’m excited to play ball,” Smith said with a laugh, via Mike Jones of the Washington Post. “You know, don’t have a lot of these coming back, can’t get any of these back, so I am excited to play every game.”

That’s Smith’s way of soft-pedaling this one, but the two used to go at it every day in practice, when Smith thought part of his job was helping the personnel department decide which cornerbacks to cut. He once told Norman “he’s going to learn very quickly this isn’t Coastal Carolina,” when the brash rookie tried him, and Norman said their matchups helped form him as a player.

“Lion against a lion. Dog against a dog, beast against a beast, man,” Norman said. “His will imposed upon mine, mine imposed upon his, trying to edge out to see who could get the best of each other that day. It was always trying to steal your food, eat your food, take your dog plate kind of matchup. . . .

“Just the fight, man. We’d have tussles here and there, which is expected. But that guy will take your heart away from you if you allow him to. . . . Every time to be out there was a chance to get better.”

Smith said he viewed Norman now as “a little brother,” but it’s hard to imagine he won’t try to take any opportunity this weekend to remind Norman he’s the older sibling.