BEREA, Ohio--Rob Chudzinski tried to get Greg Little's attention, but Little already knew what was coming.
Little was benched in the Browns third game of the season against the Vikings due to his performance.
"My performance itself was a wakeup call.''
Little had a proponent for dropping the ball in his rookie season, seemed to turn it around in 2012, only to have trouble again this season. For the season, Little has only 16 catches for 161 yards and one touchdown, a 2-yard reception against the Lions.
Profootballfocus.com lists Little as having four dropped passes this season, which is tied for 11th in the NFL.
Little said it's pretty simple what his assignment is.
"Just catching the ball."
Little was back in the starting lineup last week and scored his first touchdown of the season. He admitted he was pressing earlier in the season.
"I was just pushing myself, trying to do more than what was there, trying to hit a home run on every ball,'' he said. "(I need) to just hit a base hit and keep it moving.”
Little's stats against the Lions would've been better after he made what appeared to be a great 25-yard catch against the Lions when the Browns were driving and trailing 24-17 near the 50-yard line, but was ruled out of bounds. Chudzinski challenged but there wasn't a conclusive camera angle to overturn the call on the field.
"That was a huge, huge play in the game,'' Little said. "It was obviously a drive that would've tied up the ball game. I would've liked to know what they were thinking. Then it again it was just one play and one play never really loses the game."
Little has showed signs of starting to be a difference maker. He had a key 47-yard reception that set up a Josh Gordon touchdown in the win over the Bills. Is he ready to make more big plays?
"Yeah, and if more is there, then I’m going to try to make more of it,'' he said. "I think I am playing better. Of course, there are areas to get better throughout the week. I'm just going to keep trying to continue to make plays and get better.
"I just want to continue to get better every week and continue to make game changing plays."
Little had not made himself available to the media since after the Sept. 15 loss to the Ravens, but he said he was just focusing on improving his game.
"The media doesn't really bother me at all," he said. "I've never had a problem with talking to the media or anything like that. It's just trying to work on some things and just keep on moving forward.
"I've been doing some things in the film room a lot with Brandon (Weeden) and also just lifting weights as well,'' he said. "I didn't want to break my routine.''
Little defended Weeden's play.
"My confidence in Brandon is high," he said. "I think he has the intangibles to do big things and I believe we have each others backs as a team."
Little said winning is the cure all for the team, but admitted he has heard the boos intended for both he and Weeden.
"I think once we get back in the swing of things and are winning, I’m likely to see the fans that boo are the same fans that cheer,'' he said. "So that’s going to make me laugh, that's for sure.
"I don't mind taking criticism. We're all a team and the common goal is to win. We still just got to go out and play."
Little said the Browns are in it together.
"It's not like his decision-making over and over is wrong," he said. "There’s things that are easily curable.
Little has been linked to trade rumors and has had numerous off the field issues, including speeding tickets. Most recently, his name was linked to agent Terry Watson, who was charged for paying players, including Little, while he was at North Carolina.
"None of that bothers me because the thing is, I don't even know about it unless our PR staff tells me," Little said. "I haven't heard anything about a trade from participants that matter and I don't even know who's getting charged with what. I mean, that is what it is."
Hoyer's Surgery: QB Brian Hoyer had successful surgery to repair his torn ACL on Friday. The surgery was performed by team doctors Mark Schickendatz and Lutul Farrow at the Cleveland Clinic. Hoyer is expected to make a full recovery and Chudzinski re-iterated that he is hopeful that Hoyer will be ready for the Browns spring OTAs.
Second Half Adjustments: The Browns coaching staff has been criticized for the second half play in the Browns three losses. In those games, the Browns have only scored a combined total of three points. Last week, against the Lions the Browns were outscored 24-0 in the second half. Chudzinski said earlier in the week that they were taking a look at the team's procedures.
“I’ve taken a hard look at it," he said. "Obviously, there’s a lot of different things that come up and ideas and reasons from a coach and player standpoint, and it starts with me. We need to get better in coming out and playing in the second half. We’re looking at tape and studied all the tape, and ‘What are we doing from a scheme standpoint? Offensively? Defensively? Special teams? Are there some adjustments and things that we can do differently there?’ We feel like there are some things, and we have a plan for that from a procedural standpoint at halftime of what we can do. The thing that I feel strongly about is it’s not a matter of emotions or energy coming out the in the second half because that’s there. It’s a matter of being able to jump back into the game at the same speed that you left it. We’ve been stressing that with our players, as well as just some things procedurally being able to get them going again physically, as well as what we’re going to do and some organizational things in making sure that they’re clear with on what we need to happen in the second half, as well.”
Offensive coordinator Norv Turner said there wouldn't be talk about adjustments if the Browns were to improve in one area.
"People want to talk about halftime adjustments, it is about third down conversions."
Chudzinski said that adjustments are being made the whole game.
“There’s not a lot of time when you really break it down because the coaches get together for a little bit of time to discuss going forward," he said. "A lot of those things are ongoing anyhow. As the first half is going on, you’re talking about things that you need to do, the adjustments you’re making. A lot of times, we’re already making adjustments as the games going on. Halftime kind of just gives you time to reset. Then players have a few minutes. A lot of times they’re in there getting re-taped, doing all those type of things, changing and whatever they need to do from that standpoint so you really only have a couple of minutes with them to talk and then it’s back out on the field. There’s not a lot of time that you actually have. By the time the coaches get down, have talked things over and they have to leave to get back to the (press) box and so forth, there’s not a lot of time, less than you’d expect.”
“When things are going well, you’ve already made maybe some of the adjustments in the first half already. It’s a matter of what we’re doing coming out in the second half. Maybe it’s not a matter of adjustments as it is just making sure that everybody knows where we’re going from here. Then sometimes, if you’re not playing well in the first half, maybe it’s more major, the adjustments are more major. There’s examples of us having to do some of that, not just offense, not just defense, but on special teams, as well. Personnel and adjustments, you have to make when somebody gets hurt in the first half. We’ve had a number of those type of things. It can be a lot that you’re doing at halftime; it can be not a lot based on how the game is going; but whatever it is, we’re going to do the best we can and continue to improve coming out in the second half.”
Injury Report: DL Billy Winn (quad) and DB Josh Aubrey (knee,ankle) were ruled out while RB Willis McGahee (knee) returned to practice and is probable. LB Brandon Magee (oblique) is questionable. RB Bobby Rainey (groin), DB Chris Owens (finger) and LB Jabaal Sheard (knee) practiced Friday and are probable. LB Clay Matthews (finger), LB Nick Perry (foot), RB James Starks (knee) and TE Ryan Taylor (knee) have been ruled out.
Joe's Homecoming: Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas grew up in Wisconsin rooting for the Packers and dreaming about playing at Lambeau Field. This Sunday it will be reality for Thomas as he lines up against the Packers.
"It will definitely be a thrill for everyone," Thomas said. "The history of Lambeau, a legendary place. It's a a special place to play for me growing up a Packers fan.
"I was 12 when the Packers won the Super Bowl," he said. "There was a memorable NFC Championship game that sent them to the Super Bowl."
Thomas said his favorite players were Brett Favre and Reggie White, but he said he was never able to get a ticket to a Packers game because they are so valuable.
As it turns out, for Thomas, it was easier to play in a game at Lambeau Field as a player than get a ticket as a fan. Thomas played at the University of Wisconsin before the Browns drafted him in the first round with the third-overall pick.