NAPA -- In the early days of Raiders training camp, the "wow" factor belongs to wide receiver Greg Little, based on raucous reviews from season-ticket holders attending practice.

Although Little didn't make as many plays Sunday in the Raiders' first padded practice as he did in the previous two sessions, he was still singled out by coach Dennis Allen for a contested catch in traffic on a pass from Matt Schaub.

A waiver claim from the Cleveland Browns last May, Little has made some headway in jump-starting a career that began as a second-round draft pick out of North Carolina in 2011.

Now all he has to do is hold on.

Therein lies the problem with Little, who saw one pass get away from him after he outfought Neiko Thorpe on a sideline throw with Raiders fans groaning as the ball hit the ground.

Although he was the Browns' leading receiver in each of his first two seasons and had 155 receptions for 1,821 yards and eight touchdowns over three years, Little knows why he's not in Cleveland anymore.

"My numbers were good but not what they could have been had I maximized every opportunity that I had a chance to catch the ball," Little said.

Dropped passes are not an official stat in the NFL, but Pro Football Focus had Little dropping eight passes while catching 41 a year ago, and one estimate had him with 14 drops in 2012, including one game against Cincinnati where he dropped between four and six passes depending on who was counting.


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Wide receiver Rod Streater said Little "has been making some great plays, some incredible catches" and said of the dropped passes in Cleveland, "He's put it behind him, so we'll put it behind him with him. He's out there making plays, and he feels like he belongs here."

Little, 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, is part of a large group of Raiders looking for a fresh start, the difference being that he's not in the 29- to 32-year age group of some others. Little is still only 25.

Feeling rejuvenated by a clean slate, a demanding but supportive coaching staff and more camaraderie with his teammates than he ever felt in Cleveland, Little said being waived was a blessing.

"At a certain point in Cleveland I was stamped a certain way after so many mistakes," Little said. "You hear people in the back of your head saying, 'He can't do it,' or, 'He won't do it,' or, 'He's not able to do it,' and that's just fuel to my fire. I'll let that propel me to new heights."

Little also realizes that catches and drops mean only so much in practice.

"I'm just looking for it to carry over on Sundays," Little said. "That's where it counts, man."

In contrast to former drop-prone Raiders receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, Little is capable of looking smooth and natural and can win a fight for the ball with a defender.

Allen likes what he sees so far.

"I'm not going to let any one play deter me on how I feel about Greg Little," Allen said. "He's an outstanding talent, and since he's been here he's done everything we've asked him to do and been a real pro about doing his job."

  • Streater left practice with what could be a head injury late in the session, Allen said. Tight end Jake Murphy is out with a concussion, and linebacker Marshall McFadden left practice with a hip injury.

  • The first padded practice for first-round draft pick Khalil Mack didn't include any eye-opening plays, but Allen said the rookie did catch his eye with a couple strong rushes.

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