Greg Little hasn’t caught a pass in the NFL since 2014, yet he continues to impress at Cardinals’ training camp.
The story of Greg Little in 2018 is an extreme outlier. Every year, former NFL players begin their ‘comeback’ in hopes of snagging a roster spot but never hear a whisper, like Tiki Barber in 2011 and JaMarcus Russell in 2016. There are just too many fresh-legged kids coming from college to hand out contracts to older guys off the couch.
Mike Williams was an exception with the 2010 Seahawks, and Little, literally out of nowhere, is doing his best to follow the same path.
A basketball and football player at North Carolina, Little was taken in the 2011 NFL Draft and immediately wound up as the team’s go-to wide receiver. With Colt McCoy and Seneca Wallace as his quarterback, Little led the Browns in targets (119), receptions (61), and yards (709).
Unfortunately, it never got any better for Little and he went the way of so many other promising Browns’ prospects. By May of 2014, his time in Cleveland was officially over and he was labeled as another draft bust.
What followed was three seasons of bouncing around all over the country: Cleveland to Oakland, Oakland to Cincinnati, Cincinnati to Buffalo, and eventually, Buffalo to nowhere. He played six regular season games with Cincinnati in 2014 but only managed preseason reps in 2015 and 2016. When 2017 came around, he was no longer an NFL receiver.
Enter the Arizona Cardinals.
In early June of 2018, Little earned tryouts at Arizona’s rookie minicamp and minicamp. Thanks to his ability to humble himself — “I can block. I can run. I can tackle. I can catch. Just try to add value in any ways possible,” he told the official Cardinals website — he was signed by GM Steve Keim on June 15th, 2018.
Because Arizona’s receiving corp is so thin (currently ranked 31st by Pro Football Focus), Little actually entered camp with a decent chance to make the 53-man roster. All the 29-year old needed to do was outwork the younger guys, make plays, and put out good vibes.
As it turns out, making your mark is easy when it’s your absolute last shot.
Kyle Odegard, a writer for the team’s website, noted on Thursday that Little had worked his way into reps with the first-team offense. Additionally, Odegard said that head coach Steve Wilks has praised Little’s performance multiple times out of nowhere.
I’m not at camp but it seems like Little has found a believer in Wilks. It makes sense, I believe, since both guys were born and raised in North Carolina.
No one knows how things will play out, that’s for sure, but this is a great story any way you slice it. Three seasons without a roster spot to potentially having an impact? That’s like Mike Williams all over again.
No matter who it is, the Cardinals need production opposite Larry Fitzgerald. If it turns out that Greg Little can maintain his pace and be a threat, that’s great. If not, though, it’s impressive enough that he even signed with another franchise.