CINCINNATI (AP) — Greg Little spent the last six weeks running routes and catching passes from a friend who played quarterback in high school. He’d decide which NFL games to watch on Sundays based upon which team might need him.
His long wait is over.
Little signed with the Bengals on Tuesday and started a crash course in learning Cincinnati’s playbook. The Bengals need for him to learn fast.
Pro Bowl receiver A.J. Green missed a 37-37 tie with Carolina because of an injured big right toe and didn’t practice on Wednesday, leaving him unlikely to play at Indianapolis (4-2) on Sunday. Marvin Jones went on injured reserve this week with an ankle injury.
It’s unclear whether Little will know enough of the offense to be active on Sunday when the Bengals (3-1-1) try to keep up with the league’s top offense.
"I knew I would get another chance, but to have it be here was great," Little said on Wednesday after a morning walkthrough. "They have every piece that they need and hopefully I can add the whipped cream on top, to be something extra that they can call on."
Little was Cleveland’s second-round pick in 2011 and played in every game for the Browns in the last three seasons. He caught 115 passes for 1,821 yards and eight touchdowns. The Raiders acquired him off waivers in May and waived him after the preseason.
He’s getting a second chance with an AFC North rival that has been to the playoffs each of the last three seasons and is looking to make a deep run in the postseason.
"He had his moments in Cleveland where he dropped some balls, and they went in a different direction," coach Marvin Lewis said. "He’s leaned himself out, lost some weight, and he’s looking for an opportunity. So he’ll come in here and see what he can learn, and we’ll see if he can help us at some point."
The Bengals managed to score 37 points and pile up 513 yards against the Panthers even though they were without Green and Jones. Mohamed Sanu caught 10 passes for 120 yards, and reserves Brandon Tate and Dane Sanzenbacher each had four catches.
"I think guys have a good understanding of the offense and playing different spots, so guys are able to move around and to shuffle in," said Andy Dalton, who was 33 of 43 for 323 yards. "And I feel comfortable with everybody that’s been out there."
The Browns were constantly changing quarterbacks, coaches and offensive systems while Little was in Cleveland. He thinks that the three years of adapting to change will help him pick up things in Cincinnati faster.
"It’s tough to go in and change systems every year, but that’s also helped me coming in to be able to know the system and get it the first day that I’m here," Little said. "You live and you learn and you try to take it in stride."
Dalton said it doesn’t take long for a quarterback to build rapport with a new receiver.
"If he comes in and takes the coaching and picks up on how we’re doing things and how we run routes and all that kind of stuff, I think you can build it pretty quickly," Dalton said.