The moment of recognition might come the first time Rams linebacker Cory Littleton gets into position across the line of scrimmage from Tom Brady in Super Bowl LIII.
The Patriots quarterback, a four-time Super Bowl most valuable player, will scan the defense, and then as a means of helping teammates with blocking assignments, possibly point at and call out the jersey number of the player manning the middle linebacker position for the defense.
That would be Littleton, wearing No. 58.
“I haven’t given it a thought till now,” Littleton said Thursday when asked about Brady. “That’s actually pretty dope.”
This has been a breakout season for Littleton, a San Diego native who in three years has gone from undrafted free agent to calling plays for the defense and being voted to the Pro Bowl as a special teams standout.
On Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, he will be in the starting lineup in the Super Bowl.
“Couldn’t have predicted anything like this,” Littleton said. “Just got to live in this moment and enjoy it for what it is.
Littleton, 25, played at Spring Valley Mount Miguel High and the University of Washington before he signed with the Rams in 2016. He played on special teams as a rookie, became a spot starter at linebacker in 2017 and moved into a starting role this season.
Littleton amassed a team-best 125 tackles, had four sacks and intercepted three passes as the Rams repeated as NFC West champions and defeated the Dallas Cowboys and the New Orleans Saints in the playoffs to advance to the Super Bowl.
The 6-foot-3, 228-pound Littleton helped neutralize Saints quarterback Drew Brees in a 26-23 NFC championship game victory at New Orleans. Now he faces Brady, another future Hall of Famer who has won five Super Bowl titles in eight appearances.
“He can read a coverage, anything you try to do, like that,” Littleton said. “He finds those holes within it. Even if it’s man coverages, double coverages, he’ll see where that is and then he’ll look off in the opposite direction.
“It’s tough playing teams like that, but you try to control it as much as you can.”
Though it is the Super Bowl, Littleton said he would prepare as if it was any other game. The hoopla surrounding it will not change his pregame preparation or routine.
“I’ll still be in the locker room with my feet kicked up, probably eating a bag of Hot Cheetos and watching some Netflix,” he said.
Hot Cheetos as a pregame meal?
“I don’t know,” he said. “I got some in my bag.”
Offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth, who was at the forefront of the Rams’ community efforts after a mass shooting in Thousand Oaks and the Southland fires, won the Alan Page Community MVP Award presented by the NFL Players Assn.
Whitworth’s wife, Melissa, accepted the award and a $100,000 check that will go to the Big Whit 77 Foundation.
Whitworth, a 13th-year pro, donated a game check to help families displaced by fires and to survivors of a mass shooting at the Borderline Bar and Grill.
“This means a lot to our family,” Melissa Whitworth said, “but not as much as it’s about the community of Thousand Oaks. I’ve never been through anything quite like the month of November in Southern California. Twelve people were murdered five miles away, and an hour later our entire city was on fire.”
In a video, Whitworth described the honor as “something so special because of community involvement.” He said he hoped the money would “make lasting change in our community.”
The Rams held their first full practice since last week. Safety Blake Countess (foot) and kicker Greg Zuerlein (left, nonkicking foot) were listed as limited. ... The Rams will hold their final practice Friday. They will have a walk-through at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein