The hope this year is that rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden can make the wide receivers around him better. How did things turn out for the receivers in Wednesday's OTA session? Here is a sequence described by Steve Doerschuk of the Canton Repository:
Weeden eagerly began one drill by licking his fingers, stepping up to center Alex Mack, and barking, “Blue 80, blue 80.” He fired a short pass on the right side. Massaquoi dropped the ball and grunted. A while later, Weeden whistled a strike on the left side to Little. Rookie Trevin Wade stripped the ball, picked it up and took off. “Ahhhhhhhh!!!!” Little screamed.
It was a day in which the quarterbacks, including Weeden, were not very sharp, but here is another negative for the receivers, per Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal:
Perhaps Weeden’s best throw of the day, a sharp pass over the middle and in traffic, hit wide receiver Carlton Mitchell in the chest and was dropped.
As Doerschuk stated in his column, "it's still early." At some point, these receivers are going to have to start making a positive impression to inspire confidence in the quarterback, coaches, and fans that they can produce. The right person to do that? Second-year receiver Greg Little, who led the team in receiving last year.
As most of you have probably heard by now, Little mentioned yesterday that he lost 11 pounds in the offseason in an attempt to get quicker. In terms of him losing strength, I don't think we have to worry about that too much; the guy was built like a house to begin with, to which Little admits that he looked "more like a running back or a tight end" in his rookie season.
Little was criticized for his drops last season, and it is going to take more than lifting weights to get better. Luckily, in an article by Pat McManamon of Fox Sports Ohio, Little sounds like he is up to the challenge and eager to improve his fundamentals.
"When (Shurmur and I) watched some of the games (on tape), I was like, ‘Why did I do that?'" Little said. "I was like ... terrible."
He referred to things like how he ran routes, or how his body position or movement led to a drop. In his exit interview, Shurmur told Little he needed to get into receiver's shape. Little focused on nutrition and cut out junk food. He said last season when Chris Gocong's wife made cupcakes he would eat seven or 10 of them. He also refined his weight program, where he adjusted from lifting to gain bulk to lifting to make himself more efficient.
Yes, definitely cut out on the cupcakes; leave those for the big defensive tackles or offensive linemen.
The time that Little and Shurmur spent together is something that the young receiver was unable to take advantage of as much last year. Considering he missed his final season of college football, and the lockout prevented coaches from interacting with players last offseason, this is the first real opportunity Little has had to have his skills refined. He's taking advantage of it, and we can only hope that it pays off on gameday.