- Eric D. Williams, ESPN Staff Writer
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SAN DIEGO -- Terrelle Pryor’s athleticism and ability to extend plays will not be a surprise for the San Diego Chargers, who already had a test run against the Oakland Raiders quarterback last season.
In the 2012 regular-season finale, Pryor threw for 150 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He also ran for 49 yards, including a 3-yard run for a score in a game San Diego held on for a 24-21 win.
So even though the Raiders limp into the AFC West divisional matchup at 1-3, don’t expect San Diego’s defense to take Pryor lightly when the team travels to Oakland on Sunday (11:35 p.m. ET, NFL Network).
“Pryor is still the guy we faced last, so he’s the same,” Chargers safety Eric Weddle said. “He can make plays outside and inside the pocket. He throws well on the run. He’s extremely athletic and fast. They’ve got weapons all over the field. [Darren] McFadden, [Marcel] Reece, and the receivers are fast and can make plays on the ball.
“They’re extremely talented. They’ve been in some tight games. They could have pulled off the Indy game. We’re gearing up for a tough, physical game and one that we’ve got to play at a high level to go win.”
Another reason for concern is San Diego defensive coordinator John Pagano’s group has struggled against mobile quarterbacks so far this season. The Chargers allowed Titans quarterback Jake Locker to throw for 299 yards and a touchdown two weeks ago. Locker also ran for 68 yards, including a 7-yard touchdown run in a 20-17 Titans’ victory.
At Philadelphia in Week 2, Michael Vick threw for 428 yards and two touchdowns. Vick also ran for another 23 yards, including a 2-yard touchdown run, as the Chargers escaped with a 33-30 win.
Pryor didn’t play last week against Washington because of lingering concussion symptoms, but he has been cleared to play and is expected to start Sunday evening.
In three starts this season, Pryor has completed 65.4 percent of his passes, throwing for 624 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He’s been sacked seven times, and has an 86.7 passer rating.
Pryor’s 198 rushing yards is second among quarterbacks behind Vick (228 yards) in the NFL.
Pagano says his team needs to do a better job staying in their lanes when they rush the passer against Pryor, along with wrapping-up and making sure tackles once he breaks into the open field.
“He’s a guy that’s very athletic, that’s going to move around and create different matchups just from his feet,” Pagano said. “And we’ve got to go out and do a good job, and make sure it’s all about angles. And then we’ve got to go tackle him, get him on the ground and finish.”
Impersonating Pryor during this week’s practice has been reserve quarterback Charlie Whitehurst. At 6-5 and 226 pounds, the Clemson product is an underrated athlete, but not exactly as fleet of foot as the athletic Pryor.
“We played Philly earlier this year and did all of that, so I’m kind of used to it,” Whitehurst said. “You’ve just got to stretch real good before you go out there, and run around about as fast
57mEric D. Williams