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Carolina Panthers

Rookie Greg Little has been preparing to block J.J. Watt for a long time


CHARLOTTE – Greg Little, then in high school in Texas, was watching the NFL Network Top 100 show back when Texans defensive end J.J. Watt appeared on the screen.

He turned to his mother and said something a confident five-star prospect would say.

"I was like, 'Mom, one day I'm going to get to block him,'" Little recalled. "It's funny. Now I'm looking up and today is that day."

Well, technically, Sunday is that day. But you get the picture.

Little and the Panthers will travel to Houston to face Watt and the Texans in Week 4.

Little, a second-round pick, made his NFL debut last week in Arizona, playing 32 snaps as he rotated with Daryl Williams at left tackle in the 38-20 win over the Cardinals.

"I'm just glad to be back in there. Sunday was a fun time. I enjoyed my moments on the field," said Little, who missed time with a concussion suffered during preseason play. "It felt like I was letting my team down, you know? Being back out there with my guys – it was a joy."

Little held his own against veteran edge rushers Terrell Suggs and Chandler Jones, proving to himself and everyone else that he can contribute as a rookie.

"It was confidence-building," Little said. "Once I relaxed and just settled down, that's when I finally realized it's just football. Have fun, and that's what we did."

Little could have an expanded role in his second career game. With right guard Trai Turner battling an ankle injury – he didn't practice Wednesday – we could see more of what we saw at the end of the Cardinals game: Little at left tackle with Williams stepping in for Turner at right guard.

We'll have to wait and see how things develop this week. But we know Little will be a big contributor.

And we also know whose jersey he wants to add to his collection after the game.

That would be Texans left tackle Laremy Tunsil, who was traded from Miami to Houston just prior to the start of the season. He'll also have his hands full this week, with Carolina coming off an eight-sack performance.

Tunsil was the 13th overall pick in 2016 after a stellar college career at Ole Miss. Little was next in line for the Rebels, stepping in as a starter at left tackle as a true freshman.

"I was just about to text him," Little said. "Two iterations of Ole Miss tackles. I look up to Laremy. He was one of the reasons why I went to Ole Miss with how successful he was there. I'd be honored to get his jersey after the game."