No. 18 is already taken, so Greg Little will wear No. 88 for the Bengals.
The Bengals lost their 10-touchdown man for the season Tuesday when they put wide receiver Marvin Jones on season-ending injured reserve, but were able to replace him on the roster with a guy with eight career NFL touchdowns in former Cleveland wide receiver Greg Little
It looks like Jones is headed for surgery on his troublesome ankle that has bothered him since the spring. It's believed that both he and wide receiver A.J. Green (toe) visited foot and ankle specialist Robert Anderson in Charlotte, N.C. Tuesday.
The Bengals brought in a host of wideouts to work out Tuesday before they settled on Little, among them former Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor and 2013 Bengals sixth-round pick Cobi Hamilton, released on this past cutdown day. They wanted to sign Hamilton to the practice squad then, but did on Tuesday when they released rookie receiver Colin Lockett. They also released newly-signed linebacker Khairi Fortt, leaving them another spot on the roster.
The Bengals were looking at Pryor, a former Ohio State quarterback, purely as a big-bodied wide receiver, which is how the 6-2, 220-pound Little is viewed.
The loss of Jones is a blow, but not altogether surprising, given that he hasn't been able to practice since re-aggravating his ankle Sept. 29 in his first practice back since missing 45 days with a broken foot. The injuries are apparently unrelated and the foot has healed. In his second season last year, Jones opened up things for Green with his speed and finished his break-out year with 10 touchdowns and 712 yards on 51 catches.
Mohamad Sanu, starting in Jones' place, is on pace to have 86 catches for 1,132 yards and 10 touchdowns. Last year Jones and Green became the first duo in Bengals history to both catch at least 10 TDs.
When the Bengals decided to ice Jones for the rest of the year while still not knowing Green's time frame for a return with his big toe injury, they didn't go looking for a starter because they've already got them here. But they were looking for a talented, competent veteran for depth to go with Brandon Tate and Dane Sanzenbacher, as well as rookie James Wright and they think they did pretty well to find a 25-year-old second-round pick with 155 NFL catches and 41 starts on the street seven weeks into the season.
A second-round pick out of North Carolina for the Browns in 2011, Little finished second behind Green among all rookies with 709 yards on 61 catches and led an offense quarterbacked by Colt McCoy and Brandon Weeden in receiving his first two years in the NFL.
Little was plagued by drops (28 in his first three seasons according to profootballfocus.com), separation problems, and the soaring expectations for a high draft choice on a bad club. His cause also wasn't helped by the revolving door at head coach and offensive coordinator. When the Browns surprisingly cut him back in May, Little was working on his third coaching staff.
Playing primarily third receiver last year in Cleveland, he had 41 catches for 465 yards and two touchdowns. Little, who hasn't missed a game in his three seasons, is re-united with his quarterback for much of last season, current Bengals backup quarterback Jason Campbell.
"He's good guy, a high energy guy. He'll bring that to practice," Campbell said. "This is a good situation for him. He'll know a lot of these guys age-wise. Like the guys from North Carolinia, Gio (Bernard) and Bo (Russell Bodine). It's tough on young guys sometimes when you go through a bunch of changes with coaches and teammates. But a lot of these guys have been here for three and four years and Coach (Marvin) Lewis has been here for a long time. He's coming into a stable situation."
After Cleveland's new regime cut him this past May even though their receiver corps was a blank because of the Josh Gordon situation, Little signed with Oakland and got cut after playing in all four preseason games with five catches for 65 yards.
Somebody floated that the Browns cut Little because of "character problems." It appears his biggest problem while with Cleveland was speeding. He was once cited for going 127 miles per hour and a few months later for going 81 in a 60 mile-per-hour zone.
But Campbell thinks he'll fit into the locker room and has the potential to help.
"He doesn't have to come in here and be the first or second receiver, we've already got that," Campbell said. "He can just come in and focus on making plays. And he can make plays. He's got the talent. Whenever he goes in there, he's capable of making a play."
The shoe has yet to drop at linebacker, which is where that 53rd spot figures to go. The Bengals worked out a raft of them Tuesday, the most prominent of which was former Vikings middle backer Erin Henderson. That would indicate Rey Maualuga's hamstring injury is going to keep him out multiple weeks.