5 things to know about OL Greg Lit­tle

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Sports - BY JOURDAN RO­DRIGUE jro­[email protected]­lot­teob­server.com

The Carolina Pan­thers haven’t drafted an of­fen­sive line­man as high as Ole Miss tackle Greg Lit­tle since se­lect­ing Jeff Otah at No. 19 in 2008. And it’s safe to say that they hope Lit­tle, the 37th over­all pick, works out a lot bet­ter than Otah, who strung to­gether three years for the Pan­thers but suf­fered nu­mer­ous in­juries.

Lit­tle, a 6foot-5 and 325pound na­tive of Allen, Texas, met with Char­lotte me­dia for the first time on Satur­day af­ter­noon.

Here are five things to know about him:

HE DREW SOME PRE-DRAFT CRIT­I­CISM THE PAN­THERS THOUGHT WAS UNFAIR

The Pan­thers had a firstround grade on Lit­tle, and when a small run on tack­les be­gan in the later parts of the first round, they be­gan mak­ing calls to teams about pos­si­bly trad­ing up so they could get him.

Lit­tle might have fallen to the sec­ond round be­cause of some ex­ter­nal crit­i­cism that in­di­cated he wasn’t “edgy” enough. When asked about this in his news con­fer­ence Satur­day, Lit­tle handled it well de­spite be­ing a lit­tle ner­vous about the crowd and the cam­eras.

“I could be ‘edgier’ at times,” said Lit­tle, not want­ing to crit­i­cize his de­trac­tors. “Me and

Mr. Marty (Hur­ney) had a good con­ver­sa­tion. He un­der­stands me a lot. He said it’s not a fair cri­tique on me, that I’m not ‘edgy.’ He said I get my job done.

“But what he wants is for me to get my job done, and then some more.”

That, Lit­tle said, means fir­ing up his ‘mean streak’ be­fore an op­pos­ing player pulls it out of him.

“I have a mean streak,” he said. “Marty and I just talked about ... just start­ing the game off with (it).”

HE KNOWS FOR­MER OLE MISS/PAN­THERS TACKLE MICHAEL OHER AND FAM­ILY

Lit­tle wore the same No. 74 at Ole Miss that Oher did. He only met Oher, also a for­mer Pan­thers left tackle, once, but shared a nice mo­ment with Oher’s adopted mother, Leigh Ann Tuohy.

“When I first got to Ole Miss and took 74 over, she came up and gave me a big ol’ hug and she said, ‘I had to meet the guy who was go­ing tak­ing over my son’s num­ber,’ ” he said. “(She said) ‘I’m very happy of who has his num­ber now.’

“I love ev­ery­thing about his sit­u­a­tion, his story — and he was a Pan­ther from Ole Miss, same num­ber — it is kind of funny and crazy to think about.”

So ... that’s two for­mer Ole Miss left tack­les, both of whom wore No.

74. Sev­enty-four di­vided by two is

37. Lit­tle was the Pan­thers’ pick at No. 37.

It all makes sense now.

HE’S EA­GER TO CON­TRIB­UTE IM­ME­DI­ATELY

While head coach Ron Rivera didn’t want to commit to the idea of Lit­tle as the Pan­thers’ start­ing left tackle in Week 1 of the reg­u­lar sea­son, Hur­ney played it a lit­tle more loosely.

“We had a chance to get a guy at a premier po­si­tion that can come in and com­pete for play­ing time im­me­di­ately,” said Hur­ney. “And we think he has all the skills to be our start­ing left tackle for a long time.”

Lit­tle is ex­tremely mo­ti­vated to be that player.

“I want to show peo­ple that I’m the best left tackle in this draft,” he said. “And I want to be here a long time do­ing things I love to do, which is keep­ing peo­ple safe.”

If Lit­tle can step into a fea­ture role, he hopes it comes with­out a lot of at­ten­tion.

“Of­fen­sive line­men, we’re not re­ally big into the lime­light,” he said. “We just put our heads down, work and do our jobs. I’m ready to join that group.”

And he wants to con­trib­ute to the locker room in other ways, too. Lit­tle loves the outdoors and fish­ing. He said he’s ea­ger to con­tinue the long­time tra­di­tion of an of­fen­sive line camp­ing trip, which was started by now-re­tired cen­ter Ryan Kalil.

HIS NO. 1 GOAL IS TO PRO­TECT PAN­THERS QUAR­TER­BACK CAM NEW­TON

One of Lit­tle’s first com­ments shortly after get­ting drafted Fri­day night was about how im­por­tant it is to him to keep fran­chise quar­ter­back Cam New­ton safe.

He said Satur­day he takes that job per­son­ally.

“I’m re­ally com­pet­i­tive,” he laughed. “I hate los­ing in any­thing I do, whether it’s play­ing spades with my grandma at home or go­ing to the bowl­ing al­ley with my girl­friend.

“I take pride in keep­ing my quar­ter­back safe. It irks me even if the de­fen­sive end beats me and didn’t get (to the quar­ter­back). It still irks me that he beat me on the play. Be­cause it’s not a good feel­ing to see your quar­ter­back get hit, and then you have to look at him and help him up ... I don’t want (any­one) close to him.”

And per­haps most im­por­tantly...

HE’S A DOG PER­SON

Lit­tle has a pit bull/Labrador re­triever mix named “Stella”, who un­doubt­edly is a very good dog.

Greg Lit­tle

JEFF SINER [email protected]­lot­teob­server.com

Carolina Pan­thers draft pick Greg Lit­tle re­sponds to re­porter’s ques­tions dur­ing his in­tro­duc­tory news con­fer­ence at Bank of Amer­ica Sta­dium on Satur­day. “I want to show peo­ple that I’m the best left tackle in this draft,” he said.

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