Browns coach Pat Shurmur indicated wide receiver Greg Little could be in danger of losing his starting job.
Little continues to be plagued by dropped passes. He also continues to strike celebratory poses when he does make plays.
In the wake of the Browns’ 24-14 loss to the Buffalo Bills, Shurmur made it clear he’s tired of the act.
“We can’t play a guy that’s gonna drop footballs,” Shurmur said this afternoon during a news conference. “But I will say this: We have a young roster with young players, and that’s the reality of it, too. So we need to work with them and inspire them to play better. Now am I dealing with that? Are we working with that as we go along? Absolutely. But that’s not an excuse. That’s the reality, so we all need to do better.”
On third-and-4 from the Browns’ 40-yard line, Little was wide open on a crossing route when he let rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden’s pass go through his hands. Little had plenty of room to gain a first down and significant yardage. The crucial miscue ended the drive and prevented the Browns from trimming their seven-point deficit before halftime.
“When he goes out in the game, he’s gotta catch the football,” Shurmur said. “We have all the drills we do. We have a long list of things that we practice, and we need to get better results. That’s the reality of it.”
Shurmur also has talked to Little about his habit of imitating Jamaican track star Usain Bolt’s trademark pose. Little, a second-round pick in last year’s draft who has seven catches for 74 yards and a touchdown this season, has executed the pose in each of the past two games. He also danced in the end zone after scoring a touchdown last week when the Browns were trailing the Cincinnati Bengals.
“I’ve had my conversations with him about that,” Shurmur said. “That can be said. Now whether people see me ranting and raving on the sideline at a player, trust me, I have my conversations with him. All along, I’ve had my conversations with him about all issues.”
So what’s the next step after Shurmur talks to a player who doesn’t seem to get the message?
“We’ll see,” Shurmur said. “But I think the false interpretation of all this is that he’s not being worked with. All right? Trust me, he’s being worked with.”
The Browns have already shown they're willing to make lineup changes this season. They have reduced cornerback Sheldon Brown's role to the nickel defense and removed Eric Hagg as their starting free safety. Hagg, who started the first two games of the season, was inactive Sunday and replaced by Usama Young in the starting lineup. Young and undrafted rookie Tashaun Gipson rotated at free safety against the Bills.
Will Little be demoted, too?
The Browns’ problems at wide receiver are compounded by Mohamed Massaquoi’s injured left hamstring that he suffered against the Bills. He might not be ready in time for Thursday night, when the Browns (0-3) will play the Baltimore Ravens (2-1).
“He’s gonna be day-to-day, and there’s not many days,” Shurmur said. “So we’ll see. … If he can’t go, then Jordan Norwood’s ready to go, so we’ll put him up.”
Shurmur also said tight Alex Smith is day-to-day. Smith suffered a concussion in Week 2 and did not practice last week.