|Browns WR Greg Little drops a pass against the Ravens on Thursday. That's been an all-too-common sight since he arrived as a second-round draft pick last season. (AP Images)|
The Browns have enough trouble putting productive wide receivers on the field without arguably the most talented one dropping passes in the end zone.
But that's what Greg Little did in the fourth quarter of the 23-16 loss Thursday night in Baltimore. He muffed a pass from quarterback Brandon Weeden that would have tied the game. He was forced to leap for the ball in coverage, but it bounced off his hands.
It was nothing new. Little has been dropping passes since he arrived as a second-round draft pick last season. But he has also shown flashes of talent that the Browns need desperately at that position. He was their leading receiver in 2011.
Coach Pat Shurmur has repeated that he will not accept drops, but he strongly indicated that he's not ready to give up on Little or other receivers who have struggled to catch the ball consistently.
"I have zero tolerance for [drops]," he said. "But we have to keep working with them. I've seen it before where young players work through this."
Little did manage to snag four passes for 77 yards against the Ravens, including a tough 43-yarder in the second quarter that keyed the team's lone touchdown drive. The second-year wideout spoke optimistically about his future, but admitted that he will never be considered elite unless he grabs passes such as the one he dropped in the end zone Thursday night.
"To be a great receiver, you have to make great plays and that would have been a great play," he said. "It would have been a great play that people remember and tell their kids about."
Sweet dreams for young Robertson: When Craig Robertson signed this summer as an undrafted free agent, he was considered to be in the mix for a roster spot. Four regular-season games later, he is their second most active linebacker behind Pro Bowl candidate D'Qwell Jackson.
That level of success has even shocked him. He said he only thought about it "in my dreams."
"A lot of people back home are like, 'Hey, you're in the NFL now,'" he said. "But it's still unreal to me at times. It's a dream come true."
The dream became even sweeter when he intercepted a pass from Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco in the end zone Thursday night to keep the game scoreless. Not bad considering that Flacco had not tossed a pick in the red zone in three years.
"That was kind of cool," said Robertson about his second interception of the season. "I played the ball. It came right to me. [Wide receiver Jacoby] Jones was on a slant, so I knew something was coming on the outside."
Robertson has been greatly responsible for covering tight ends in passing situations. "It helps us in our nickel package," he said. "I like the challenge. It's like, here's the challenge. Take it."
Poor coverage or perfect passes? Browns cornerback Dimitri Patterson received criticism for his second-half performance against talented Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who managed all nine of his catches for 131 yards after the break. Most of the receptions were against Patterson, who had blanket coverage on a few of them. He believed he could do little to stop pinpoint Flacco passes. But it seemed at times that he simply didn't play the ball as well as did Boldin.
"I'm all over him," he said. "At the end of the day, I'm satisfied with how I played. I always play the ball well."
Patterson also spoke about those who gave the Browns little respect heading into the game. It might be expected considering they've lost 10 consecutive regular season games, but he believes they opened a few eyes by hanging around against the rugged Ravens in Baltimore until the final tick of the clock.
"No one gives the Browns a chance to win week in and week out," he said. "But I think people feel better about us after that game."
Bits and pieces: Shurmur revealed that strong safety T.J. Ward has an injured right thumb. Ward was seen after the game with a cast on the hand. But Shurmur said Ward can play with it. He added that wide receiver/kick returner Josh Cribbs (head) is "doing well" and that he spoke with Cribbs at length on the plane returning to Cleveland. ... Shurmur praised the officials that called the game Thursday night despite earning a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty for disputing a call. ... Shurmur reacted strongly when asked if he feels "betrayed" by premier cornerback Joe Haden, whose drug suspension has arguably cost his team two victories. Shurmur said he considers the situation the same as if Haden had "a sprained ankle."
Stay dialed in on the Cleveland Browns on Twitter at @CBSBrowns throughout the season with on-site updates from CBSSports.com RapidReports correspondent Marty Gitlin.