The content of the conversation between Browns wide receiver Greg Little and NBA great Alonzo Mourning is still not known, but given the change in Little since it took place, Mourning may want to go on a speaking tour. After a start in the league with his share of drops and still learning the receiver position, Little was clearly frustrated and needed to adjust his approach. After the talk with Mourning, Little refocused his efforts and the drops all but stopped over the second half of last season and he looked promising. This season, Little changed his number from 15 to 18 and in many ways, it seems like the number change came with an attitude change and an enhanced professional focus. 15 was a running back trying to make the adjustment to a wide receiver who had his share of struggles while 18 appears to be a true wide receiver who is doing everything to refine his craft and take a big step forward as a professional and be a real asset to the Cleveland Browns.
Coming into this year, Little has taken what he started in the second half of last year and seems to have taken it to another degree. He is commonly seen working with the Jugs machine and catching passes before and after practice. Often times, he is the last one out of the field house. He has taken time with quarterback Brandon Weeden to run extra routes and work on developing chemistry.
The Browns brought in Davone Bess (who took 15) for his leadership and his work ethic to teach young players how to be professionals and what hard work really looks like. It is unclear if Little did not really need the adjustment or if Bess’s presence has only made Little work even harder and it is just adding to what he was already doing. In either case, it is clear he is doing everything he can to be a great player and give the Browns another productive receiver and someone who is leading by example that could perhaps evolve into another homegrown vocal leader.
Ultimately, it remains to be seen how good Little will be this season. The hard work is fantastic but it needs to show results on the field and there will be fans ready to throw him overboard the second he drops a pass. The fact is if he does have any setbacks or problems, it will not be for lack of hard work on trying to improve his hands and be a better pass catcher.
If the work does pay off, the amount Little can bring to this offense is enormous. With Josh Gordon working as the all-around threat who can attack anywhere on the field, Little can be a great asset to catch passes underneath and create yards after the catch. Little was, afterall, a running back when he arrived at North Carolina and every so often, he shows glimpses of what he is able to do with the ball in his hands. He has quickness and remarkable strength that make him difficult for opponents to bring down. It appeared as though Little was rushing too much at times last year and that is what prevented him from doing as much as he should be able to do after the catch. The combination of more experience and more confidence in his hands should help him be more comfortable after the catch and show his natural instincts as a playmaker.
In addition to being a receiver, he is a good fit in a power offense because he can be a good blocker and really help seal the edge to create opportunities for Trent Richardson and the other backs in the running game. Whether he is lined up on the outside or as a power option in the slot, Little offers a lot of versatility if he can put things together as a blocking threat.
The hope is that the second half of last year represented real progress and can build off of as Little enters his third year. This should be the year where Little really comes into his own and all of that hard work pays in a big way. For fans, they should root for Little because he is giving it everything he has to make it work and be successful. Ultimately, he needs to come through and become that player but the fans should really rally behind him and try to give him an extra lift and cheer like crazy when he succeeds 18 may represent maturity as well as really owning being a Cleveland Brown and doing everything he can to be the player fans want him to be. Little is doing everything the fans would hope for in terms of putting in extra work and he is evolving into the blue collar mentality that this city and this fan base should want to rally behind. He is hopefully becoming the type of success story this team needs to have more of and the type fans should adore, so show 18 support and show him how much the hard work means to the Cleveland Browns and their fans.