Thankful Little fitting in fast with Bengals
CINCINNATI — During the first couple weeks of the NFL season, when he was watching the games at home instead of playing, Greg Little knew that when he received another opportunity he had to make the most of it.
He certainly did that on Sunday.
After being signed by the Bengals on Oct. 14, Little stepped up in his second game with his new team with three receptions for 42 yards as Cincinnati rallied for a 27-24 win over Baltimore in a key AFC North game.
"Those days get long on the couch. You sit there and you watch some games some weeks and other weeks you go out and try to pass the time by," Little said. "I just told myself when I get another chance, do you want to be back on the couch or do you want to be on the field on Sunday?
"Really, man, it means a lot to me that they gave me the opportunity, a fair opportunity to come in here and compete. I took it upon myself to learn the offense as fast as I could so the coaches could trust me on the field, and (receivers) coach (James) Urban has been a great help. He told me he stood on the table for me to come here and I told him I wasn’t ever going to let him down."
Little was drafted in the second round by the Browns in 2011 and had 155 receptions, eight touchdowns and averaged 11.7 yards per catch in three seasons. But he was known more for the receptions he didn’t make. According to Pro Football Focus, Little had 31 drops while in Cleveland.
The Browns waived Little on May 16 and he was claimed by Oakland three days later only to be released during the last round of roster cuts. With the Bengals beset by injuries at receiver, Little came in for a tryout and was signed.
After having just one reception for 13 yards last week against the Colts, Little had two big receptions against the Ravens. On the Bengals opening drive on third-and-14, Little was able to shake off single coverage from Dominique Franks before being pulled down by Darian Stewart at the Ravens 1 for a 21-yard gain.
On the game-winning drive, Little had another key third-down grab as Dalton hit him for a 13-yard gain to the Ravens 6.
"I knew once I made the first guy miss I was trying to get in the best I could. I look at that as playing to the whistle," Little said. "It was a huge game, man, and this is what types of games that you live for. You knew it was going to be a physical fight and Hue (Jackson) preached that to us all week. Guys really took notice of that and really applied it during the week."
Two years ago due to injuries to the defensive line, the Bengals had their eyes on a defensive end who was just released and signed him hoping that he could provide depth. All Wallace Gilberry did was be among the team leaders in sacks and parlay that into a contract extension.
With A.J. Green missing the past three games due to turf toe and Marvin Jones on injured reserve, Little might have the same opportunity during the second half. With Green possibly being back on Sunday against Jacksonville and Mohamed Sanu starting on the opposite end, Little could emerge more as a slot receiver during the second half of the season.
"When Greg came out of North Carolina, we really felt like he was a talent. He obviously went up the road to Cleveland, so we had to play against him. We just felt like this guy has the ability to make plays," head coach Marvin Lewis said. "This guy has really come in here and hit the ground running. He was here at 10 o’clock on Thursday night this week. This guy’s in here and just trying to get his career back going.
"He’s got great ability. Andy missed him on the touchdown earlier in the game. So it’s fun to see a guy getting an opportunity. As we say, when you come here, you have a clean slate. We’re going to take you for what you do around here day in and day out, play in and play out. So I’m glad for him."