BEREA - Greg Little has become a favorite of fans for all the wrong reasons.
The Browns receiver is the one player that is consistently criticized by fans when he makes a mistake, which has been too often. Others receive their fair share of the blame, but not even quarterback Brandon Weeden catches as much grief as does Little.
That's the way life is when you're among the NFL leaders in dropped passes. There's no official stat because of the subjectivity of the matter, but it's safe to assume that few receivers have had more drops in the last two seasons than Little.
What makes it so upsetting for coaches and fans is that Little has the talent to be a quality receiver. He's a solid 6-2 and 220 pounds. He runs well for a man of his size and is developing into a good blocker.
If only he could be depended on more when he has to make a big catch. Weeden didn't complete one pass to Little last week against the New York Giants. Weeden doesn't agree with assessments that indicate Little's role is diminishing.
"He had one game where he was targeted twice," Weeden said. "It was just a coincidence. I talked to him about it. I think it's wrong. He's a guy that's capable of making a bunch of plays. I'd be crazy not to throw it to him."
Little isn't concerned about his role at this time. He said there were plans to get him the ball against the Giants, but the coverage took away those opportunities.
"The way that they rolled certain coverages. There were plays where the ball should have gone to me but it didn't," Little said. "That's just the way the game is played. When I was the first or second read, Jordan Norwood got a lot of those, and that was really good to see him show his ability."
Little did contribute in another way against the Giants. Coach Pat Shurmur singled out both Little and Josh Gordon out for downfield blocking that allowed running back Trent Richardson to get outside a few times.
The blocking of the receivers is important because of the inability of guards Jason Pinkston and Shawn Lauvao to get outside on stretch runs. Without sound blocking from the receivers, the cornerbacks will easily turn the plays inside.
It's asking a lot for a receiver to simply be satisfied with blocking. There's never been a receiver to play the game that didn't want to catch as many passes as possible.
"It (blocking well) would have good enough if we had won," Little said. "I have to find something I can do, whether it's blocking for a guy that can score again or making a huge play where I score. Something where we get a win."
Offensive coordinator Brad Childress admittedly wants to see more production from Little in the passing game. Through five games he has 11 receptions for 151 yards. He's been held without a catch in two games.
"I think there's a time where we'd like to see more consistency catching the football," Childress said. "Is he evolving as a pro? Yeah, I think he's probably getting a little bit smarter in terms of what we're doing systematically. Unfortunately, you can't quantify it with numbers or stats or catches, but he's doing a good job blocking down the field.
"He'll get his opportunities. Sometimes he's first in progressions, sometimes he's last and sometimes he's getting it whether he's first or last."
Just getting it at all is the main issue.