Browns rookie WR Little has opportunity
BEREA (AP) — Two days into training camp, rookie Greg Little has moved up the Cleveland Browns’ depth chart.
The wide receiver made the most of getting the opportunity Sunday under new coach Pat Shurmur while three key receivers sat out.
Josh Cribbs missed the second half of drills, his left knee wrapped in ice. Mohamed Massaquoi still had his right foot in a cast. Tight end Ben Watson watched after sustaining a concussion Saturday.
Shurmur said it all means that Little will get a chance in the new West Coast offense.
“When the lines get shorter, guys get more reps and it helps them,” Shurmur said. “If you can handle it, the more you do, the better you get. He’s getting more.”
Cribbs said his knee was strained when a defensive back landed on his leg and that he didn’t think the injury was too serious. Shurmur said Watson would miss a few days, but Massaquoi declined comment on his injury.
Shurmur was pleased other than first-round draft pick Phil Taylor remaining unsigned. The defensive lineman from Baylor was taken 21st.
Later, the team announced they had re-signed unrestricted free agent defensive lineman Derreck Robinson. He had 24 tackles in 14 games a year ago. The move adds another option on the line if Taylor stays out.
“When a player is not on the field for any reason, as coaches, you have to treat it like he had an ankle injury and the next guy’s up,” Shurmur said. “We need to focus on working with guys that are here. You find a way to catch them up when they get here. We’ll fight our fannies off to get him caught up.”
Little is moving up. He showed little rust from a layoff that was much longer than the 4½-month NFL lockout endured by others. The 59th pick in the 2011 draft missed all of last season at North Carolina after being declared ineligible by the NCAA because of improper dealings with an agent.
That was the start of big problems for former Browns coach Butch Davis, who got fired last week at the school. Little said Davis helped him a lot and told him nothing but good things about Cleveland.
“He was part of some things that he couldn’t control,” Little said, adding he was surprised by the firing because he thought Davis had the program on a winning track.
“He told me about how great the fans are in Cleveland, and he was right. To have this type of showing at a practice kind of gives you that game vibe. You want to step up and produce. It’s fun.”
Little did that Sunday in front of a few hundred onlookers, earning cheers early by making a nice catch on a down-and-out pattern.
Playing in a similar offense with the Tar Heels two years ago should benefit him with the Browns.
“I think just coming from a prostyle West Coast offense in college has helped me tremendously,” Little said.
Working out with quarterback Colt McCoy and other veterans at the unofficial “Camp Colt” held by players during the lockout was a great learning experience, too.
“That was so empowering for me to be part of that,” Little said. “I think that helped the camaraderie a lot. To start getting the terminology and get some reps in, it was good.”
Little’s straightforward approach and eagerness to learn have made an impression.
“Guys that are playmakers have a lot of confidence in their ability,” Shurmur said.
“He takes in coaching. One of the first things we talk about is being coachable, being able to stand there and listen. He’s got skill. He’s got ability.”
Little wasn’t ready to make any bold statements.
“It’s Day 2, man,” he said. “I’m just trying to make plays.
“If you study your craft, your playbook, when you come out here, it is like a review session. I just try to get better every day, improve myself in becoming a professional.”