CLEVELAND - Just two years ago Browns receiver Greg Little was the one whose actions were being watched closely by the organization.
Now Little is the one doing the watching.
Times have changed dramatically for Little since being selected in the second round of the 2011 draft. He's gone from being a concern because of poor judgment that cost him his final season of football at North Carolina to being one of the hardest-working, most dedicated players on the roster.
Little has even taken it upon himself to make sure that fellow receiver Josh Gordon doesn't make any more mistakes. Gordon, who tested positive for marijuana three times in college at Baylor and Utah, recently received a two-game suspension for testing positive for the banned substance codeine.
Browns CEO and president Joe Banner said last week that "the rope is short" for Gordon. In other words, he could be waived if he makes more mistakes.
"I spend a lot of time with Josh," Little said. "It's not really so much a leadership thing. It's just a brotherhood thing. It's an accountability thing. He has my back and I have his.
"Josh made a mistake and he's learning from it. I think that's going to help make Josh a better person and a better player."
Gordon will sit out the opener at home against the Miami Dolphins and the second game, at Baltimore. Although he'll return for game three in Minnesota, Gordon won't begin collecting salary until after the fourth week of the season.
Little believes that Gordon will avoid making more mistakes.
"Josh is very accountable from this point on," Little said. "When Joe sent that kind of message, Josh is going to respond in a very professional manner. I think he's going to come back ready to roll."
Little has never had problems with substance abuse. His issues were self-inflicted through poor decisions in other areas, most notably securing an agent while still an amateur athlete. He paid the price by sitting out the 2010 NCAA season.
Little showed promise in his rookie season, catching 61 passes for 709 yards and two touchdowns. He also exhibited a shaky pair of hands, evidenced by an estimated 14 drops out of 75 catchable passes (fourth lowest in the NFL).
Little vowed to improve last season but struggled early and finished the season with nine drops out of 62 catchable passes, fifth lowest in the league. In fairness, he had just three drops from week six on to finish with 53 receptions for 647 yards and four touchdowns.
When the drops came fast and furious early last year, Little became the object of nasty fan tweets. Upset by the criticism, he fired back with some angry tweets. He eventually shut down his twitter account to concentrate on his game.
Little appears more mature and better able to handle outside distractions as he enters his third season.
"I understand the profession of the business and the time that goes into preparation," he said. "What you put in is what you're going to get out of it."
Little is being counted on to start opposite Gordon when the latter returns from the suspension. Like Gordon, Little is a big, physical target at 6-2 and 220 pounds.
"I've been pleased with Greg all along," coach Rob Chudzinski said. "He made big strides in the spring. He still has a long way to go and a lot to learn about playing receiver and the details of the position. Guys have potential, but it's about knowledge, detail and drive. Those are things you have to focus on to reach your potential."
No receiver remains after practice catching balls from the JUGs machine longer than Little. He feels he has a chance to become a star.
"I think the sky is the limit for me," he said. "The way I'm preparing in training camp is going to put me in position to achieve every goal I have for myself."