Pryor biding his time on Raiders sidelines

December, 18, 2013
12/18/13
8:00
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ALAMEDA, Calif. -- While Terrelle Pryor is sure he was wrong in how he handled the specifics of his injury back in early November, he is far from positive he will ever get another shot at being the starting quarterback for the Oakland Raiders.

“I'm not really sure, you know?” Pryor said this week. “I'll just try to get better and I'll try to make the best of my situation every day in practice and keep learning. Like I told you guys before -- what I need is experience. That's what I need. I need experience and obviously, I need to get better at things and we all do. But that's the main thing.

“I know what I need to get better at and you know, I had a fun time playing eight games, or whatever I did, and we did some good things and (I will) just try to build off that.”

[+] EnlargeTerrelle Pryor
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsTerrelle Pryor has passed for 1,591 yards with 5 touchdowns and 11 interceptions this season. He's added 527 rushing yards.
Pryor beat out Matt Flynn for the starting gig in training camp, partly because Pryor's mobility was needed behind a makeshift offensive line. And when Pryor excelled early -- his passing was markedly improved from OTAs -- he was seemingly improving by the snap.

In the Raiders' late-night 27-17 defeat of the San Diego Chargers on Oct. 6 at the O.co Coliseum, Pryor put on a show in completing 18 of 23 passes for 221 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 31 yards.

Then defenses caught on to his predilection of rolling to his right and adjusted accordingly. He still had the occasional highlight reel play (remember that breathtaking record-for-a-quarterback 93-yard touchdown run against the Pittsburgh Steelers?), but he went down with an injured right knee late in the blowout lost to the Philadelphia Eagles on Nov. 3. And when he could show no burst on his runs or push off on his passes in a head-scratching loss at the New York Giants a week later, it was obvious something was amiss.

Pryor, who had been a model teammate earlier in the season, sulked in his postgame media conference and said he had a sprained MCL.

Undrafted rookie Matt McGloin, who is more the prototypical pocket passer, took over the next week, beating the Houston Texans, and has held the job since.

“I made an excuse,” Pryor said. “That was the thing. Instead of going and taking the high road and not blaming that (injury), I kind of took the low road and wasn't a leader that day by saying, ‘Hey, my knee was a problem.' And I blamed it on that, whether it was the case or not. I just think it was bad leadership ... by making an excuse.

“It was a mistake by making an excuse.”

Conspiracy theorists who believe the Raiders coaching staff and front office were never sold on Pryor will say he gave them a reason to bench him in favor of McGloin.

“Everyone knew that I had a torn MCL,” Pryor said. “So, a torn MCL is a torn MCL. And (with) the way I move, you know?”

Truth is, Pryor said he was fazed by the knee injury, and he lost his job due to injury and ineffectiveness. Whether or not a now-healthy Pryor should get another shot behind a rebuilt and solidified offensive line -- with Jared Veldheer at left tackle and Khalif Barnes at left guard -- is another conversation.

Especially with just two games remaining in the season.

“Would you want to go in there and do that, do the system-type deal? Yeah, absolutely,” Pryor said. “You want to be exactly what the coaches want you to be. You want to make plays from the pocket. I made plenty of passes in the pocket.”

Pryor, who was 3-5 as the Raiders starter, has completed 57.7 percent of his passes for 1,591 yards with five touchdowns, 11 interceptions and nine passes of at least 25 yards. He has been picked off eight times, though, since his last TD pass.

He also has 527 rushing yards on 74 carries, with eight runs of 20-plus yards.

It's important to note that while the competitor in Pryor may not fully agree with coach Dennis Allen's decision to go with McGloin, Pryor has accepted it. And Pryor could not use the word “respect” enough when talking about Allen.

So much so that Pryor, who has one more year remaining on his rookie contract after being selected by the late Al Davis with a third-round supplemental draft pick in 2011, said he would not approach Allen about his future chances at competing for the starting gig until after the season.

“That's what I owe to my teammates,” he said.

As such, he'll continue to stand on the sidelines and enter the game if called upon, as he's done the past two games -- for a series at the New York Jets and in the middle of a series against the Kansas City Chiefs.

In fact, he said he was not told he'd enter the Chiefs game until the play before he was sent in, making it a necessity to keep his body warm at all times on the sidelines.

“It's just, whatever the coaches want to do, I'm on board with that,” Pryor said. “I just want to be the team player that we all want to be. That's their choice; I can't fight it if that's what they want. I'm all for whatever they want.”

Paul Gutierrez

ESPN San Francisco 49ers reporter

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