On the rebound

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The buzz coming out of wide receiver Greg Little's first practice as a Bengal was this Wednesday:

Near the end of practice in Paul Brown Stadium, Little went deep and quarterback Andy Dalton hit him in stride for what was reportedly a 50-yard bomb.

Why not? Paul Brown came from Cleveland to Cincinnati a few years ago to find redemption.

"Andy is looked at as a veteran now in this league," Little said. "I'm looked at as similar body style to these types of guys. He knows how to get these guys the ball and I'll just hopefully step in and not miss a beat."

Apparently he didn't on his first day and, as expected, Little impressed with a 6-2, 220-pound body he kept in shape during a seven-week layoff and one that every scout will tell you looks the NFL part.

"Greg Little, he's a good receiver. Big, physical, can run. He will block. I think he'll be a good addition to our team," said  cornerback Adam Jones, who has covered him for the past three seasons when Little worked in Cleveland.  He reminds me a little of (Mohamed) Sanu. Sanu might be a little more polished in the routes. He reminds me a lot of Sanu."

Jones agrees. A good pickup this late in the season. But…

"We need 18. That's what we need. I'll leave it at that," Jones said.

That, of course, would be Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green, but it looks like he's going to miss his second straight game Sunday (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) in Indianapolis with his big toe injury because he was nowhere to be seen on the field Wednesday.

Bu the good thing for Little is they're not asking him to be Green or the 6-2, 210-pound Sanu, Dalton's No. 1 target with Green out. That wasn't the case in Cleveland, where he was drafted in the same second round as Dalton in 2011, the same draft Green  was the fourth pick.

Bengals backup quarterback Jason Campbell, one of Little's three quarterbacks in Cleveland last year, reiterated Wednesday what he said Tuesday.

"He doesn't have to come in here being the No. 1 or No. 2 guy," Campbell said. "He just has to be himself and go out and play the game."

It wasn't too long ago when Bengals and Browns etiquette was quietly a hands-off stance with each other's players. You don't sign ours and we won't sign yours. That died with free agency and got really blown up when Bengals guard Eric Steinbach left for a king's ransom to play in Cleveland when Lebron first reigned.

Now two receivers have traded places this year with Andrew Hawkins going to the Browns in March as a restricted free agent and Little taken the locker one down from where Hawkins had been located.

"I believe that it's a very completion driven offense and that's the reason Andy is efficient is that there are a lot of things you want to say are quick hitting, not necessarily because they're down the field throws," Little said. "One of the real reasons I think I can thrive is Andy. He's a guy who knows how to throw to a bigger receiver. He's been doing it his whole career with A.J. and other guys  Brandon and Sanu and Marvin. It's going to be fun to be a part of it."

In fact, Hawkins texted him congrats and told Little to say hello to receivers coach James Urban and the guys.

"Great guy," Little said.

Little has been watching these guys as draft mates. In 2011 he caught more balls than any other rookie receiver than Green.

"Being a division rival, you're going to compare yourself to other duos or matchups that are in the division," Little said. "These guys have had a rather good connection."

Little came as advertised from the Cleveland media. Bright. Engaging.. Good talker. A go-to-guy in the locker room. Now they'll see if he can become a go-to-guy on the field, where he has struggled with drops (28 according to profootballfocus.com in his three seasons) and revolving doors at quarterback and offensive coordinator. He was working on his fourth in Oakland when he got cut at the end of this preseason.

He also brought a nice slash of honesty when  he talked about the instability of quarterbacks.

"It was hard. Any time you don't have consistency at a position such as the quarterback position it's going to be tough to develop a relationship," Little said. "But you see Josh Gordon  able to produce, so you don't want to give yourself excuses when the guy  on the other end is playing at a very high level."

Not only was Little taken by surprise when the new Cleveland regime cut him back in May, he was stunned at the reason that was floated. "Character problems."

"That has been speculated, but to me I've done everything I could do to help my teammates get better," Little said. "Whether it was working out with them in the offseason, traveling to their homes to work out in the offseason, or just staying to work after practice. I don't see how those character things have come up when the offensive coordinators have dubbed me as one of the hardest workers on the team. I can't justify it for you as well."

He doesn't have to. He's not a second-round savior here. But he can help save a season from injuries.

No, he didn't know the Bengals play the Browns on Nov. 6 on Thursday Night Football.

"That's big enough, but we've got a pretty big one coming up Sunday," Little said.

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