Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 5/30/12

Greg Little was drafted to be a productive starter, coach Pat Shurmur said, but perhaps the early expectations were unrealistic considering Little didn't have the benefit of his senior season at North Carolina.

Little delivered 61 receptions for 709 yards and two touchdowns, starting 11 games as a featured player on an offense that lacked other constants at the skill positions because of chronic injuries.

With changes anticipated in the offseason -- subtracting Peyton Hillis, adding Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden -- Shurmur put the onus on Little to make the most of his first full offseason.

"When I had my exit interview with him in January, I basically told him that he needed to do everything he can in this offseason to make a huge jump for his second year," Shurmur said. "I think he’s got a good start on that."

Little was suspended as a senior in 2010 during the Tar Heels' off-field crisis and didn't have the benefit of NFL offseason training as a rookie because of the lockout.

He said he dropped 11 pounds since the season ended in January and kept in near constant contact with Shurmur. Little spent more time working on the fundamentals of coaching the ball -- catching the tip, as Shurmur put it -- to avoid drops.

"I've seen him look a lot quicker, a lot more sudden and I think to this point he has caught the ball at a much more consistent rate and he just looks like a different guy to me." Shurmur said. "A guy that's been through it once and to his credit, and again let's not tell him I said this, but to his credit he has done a really nice job of getting his body into the right kind of shape he needs to be in to be a receiver in this league."

Now he's working in a similar offense -- albeit with new coordinator Brad Childress calling the shots -- with a new set of teammates, including Richardson and Weeden, first-round picks in April who are expected to be starters when the season begins in September. Weeden took the first-team snaps ahead of Colt McCoy on Wednesday, but Shurmur said it was a predetermined rotation. McCoy ran with the first team last week.

Weeden sees some similarities between his top college receiver, Justin Blackmon, and Little.

"There are a lot of similarities. They are big body guys, big hands and strong," Weeden said. "You can tell when Greg catches it he's strong with the football and that's the way that Justin was. I haven't really thrown much with Greg, we've been in two different groups, but the more I see him, I'll tell you what, he can play. He can really, really go get it. He's going to be a fun guy to throw to."

MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Yasiel Puig, Justin Turner team up for hilarious rendition of total eclipse

WATCH: Odell Beckham Jr. leaves game after low hit to his leg

Multiple Cleveland Browns players kneel during anthem

Army-Navy to play at the Meadowlands on 20-year anniversary of 9/11

Beckham stared straight at eclipse, can still see his 'haters'

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

LeBron downplays Griffin's comments about him going to NY

Broncos coach calls Siemian 'permanent' starting QB

Report: MLB threatened to fine umps over protest wristbands

Report: Goodell close to signing five-year extension with NFL

Mark Davis: Raiders have won fight for Los Angeles

Mayweather reportedly furious Bieber is distancing himself

The 'Anquan Boldin calls it a career' quiz

15 college football coaches who are on the hot seat

Getaway Day: The playing field is leveling off as the wild-card chase takes shape

Sports & Politics Intersect: Echoes of Charlottesville ripple across the sports world

BIG3 Playoff Preview: Can anyone stop Trilogy?

The 'Bye bye to the Beast Incarnate?' quiz

Why the SEC is not the best football conference anymore

Box Score 8/18: Reds and Cubs claw through a 23-run game

The 'M! E! S! S! Mess! Mess! Mess!' quiz

Three Up, Three Down: Giancarlo Stanton won't stop hitting homers

NFL shifts blame for Zeke suspension to police and NFLPA

Box Score 8/17: Interleague games bring the fireworks

All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

The 'Anquan Boldin calls it a career' quiz

Getaway Day: The playing field is leveling off as the wild-card chase takes shape

Sports & Politics Intersect: Echoes of Charlottesville ripple across the sports world

BIG3 Playoff Preview: Can anyone stop Trilogy?

The 'Bye bye to the Beast Incarnate?' quiz

Why the SEC is not the best football conference anymore

The 'M! E! S! S! Mess! Mess! Mess!' quiz

Three Up, Three Down: Giancarlo Stanton won't stop hitting homers

NFL shifts blame for Zeke suspension to police and NFLPA

The 'Forget Calvin, bring back Jerry' quiz

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker