CHARLOTTE – Greg Little hasn’t had much of a chance to explore his new city. For the most part, the 21-year-old offensive tackle either been meeting with the Panthers coaches or studying his playbook.
And that’s fine by him.
“I love football,” said Little, the team’s second-round draft choice. “So I could be in meetings all day talking about football.”
The Panthers traded up to draft Little because they believe he can be the long-term answer at left tackle. They also believe he has the ability to be a starter from Day One.
Now he has to prove it. That process started with rookie minicamp, which wrapped after a morning practice on Saturday.
“They have high expectations of me and I’ve had high expectations since high school coming out and being a top tackle,” Little said. “Just work. I’m not looking for any handouts. I’m here to earn it.”
He’s made a good first impression.
“The biggest thing you do notice from Greg is that he’s paying attention to a lot of things,” head coach Ron Rivera said. “He wants to learn. That’s a huge plus.”
The players won’t put pads on until training camp, so linemen aren’t yet able to fully engage. But rookie minicamp featured Little and first-round draft pick Brian Burns going head-to-head on a couple of occasions.
It’s a battle that’s been waged before.
“We always have a good time when we play against each other. We go way back to high school one-on-ones (at the Nike Opening Camp),” said Little, who noted that he won O-line MVP at that camp. “He’s athletic and quick and understands how to rush. It’s a great matchup. We’re always trying to outsmart each other. The Panthers got a great player (in Burns) for a long time.”
They hope to say the same about Little, especially with the critical role he plays as a protector for franchise quarterback Cam Newton.
Little said he met Newton briefly when the annual “Kicking it with Cam!” event took over Bank of America Stadium.
“He seems like a good guy,” Little said. “I’m looking forward to taking some sets and working some angles with him to get a feel for him.”
Then all he’ll need is a nickname from the star quarterback.
“Not yet, not yet,” Little said when asked if he’s gotten his. “I hope it’s a good one.”
View photos from the final day of the 2019 rookie minicamp in Charlotte.