ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders have chosen to go with the hot hand, rather than the sore knee.
Undrafted rookie free agent Matt McGloin, who entered training camp as the fourth-string quarterback after walking on at Penn State, will start over Terrelle Pryor on Sunday at home against the Tennessee Titans. McGloin will remain the starter as long as he performs well.
The decision, said coach Dennis Allen, was as much merit-based as it was on Pryor's iffy health and recent ineffectiveness as McGloin started in place of the injured Pryor and helped lead the Raiders to a 28-23 victory at the Houston Texans last weekend with three touchdown passes.
"This is a production business, I've said that before," Allen said Wednesday. "One of the things we've tried to create here is an atmosphere of competition. If you go out and you perform and you make plays, you get opportunities to continue to go out and perform and make plays. Matt did that last week. He's going to get another opportunity this week. We'll see how it goes."
McGloin completed 18 of 27 passes for 197 yards and became the first Raiders rookie quarterback since Todd Marinovich in 1991 to throw three TDs in his first NFL start.
It was also the Raiders' highest-scoring game of the season.
"It feels good," McGloin said. "It feels good that all the preparation and hard work has really paid off and I'm glad that the coaching staff has some faith in me and trust in me and I know the team does as well.
"It's a performance-based business and at the end of the day you have to perform to play. We did play well last week. I think coach is doing the right thing sticking with what we had and seeing what happens."
McGloin began by completing seven of his first 11 passes, and there were three drops. He benefited from short fields, twice starting at the Texans' 16-yard line, and his first pass as an NFL starter was a five-yard TD pass to Denarius Moore.
Still, the Raiders offense slowed to a crawl, converting just two of its final 15 third-down conversions, going 0-for-9 at one point.
"That's kind of something we want to focus on this week," McGloin said.
"As long as I play well I'd hope I get more and more opportunities to start. But the main thing being there is playing well. We know what it takes. Last week, obviously, we did a great job. Hopefully we can continue that."
The plan for Pryor, then, is for him to back up McGloin, so long as Pryor's knee is healthy. Then the Raiders could realize their training camp vision of using its original offense -- initially set up for the since-released Matt Flynn -- with the ultra-mobile Pryor coming into the game in certain packages.
"It's a possibility," Allen said.
But if Pryor, who practiced limited Wednesday, is not healthy enough to play, he will be inactive for the third time this season (he missed the Washington game on Sept. 29 with a concussion).
"There's some pain but that's to be expected," Pryor said of his knee. "Not everybody is going to be healthy. But, obviously, I play a certain way and I've just got to be a little bit more healthy to do that.
"There's uncertainty about it ... if I tweak it again or whatever the case may be. Can I push off for a full game? I don't know. Whatever [Allen's] choice is, I know two things for certain: He chooses what's going on and he's our leader. So, whatever the leader chooses, we just fall into place and just follow it. The second thing is, I've just got to get myself back healthy."
Pryor was a revelation earlier in the season and seemed to peak with his franchise-record 93-yard touchdown run against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Oct. 27. But he has thrown eight interceptions since his last touchdown pass.
And while he was saying the politically correct things in the locker room, it was obvious Pryor was far from thrilled.
"You get hurt, other guys play well, why not continue with it?" mused Pryor, who said he was working with a therapist to strengthen the tendons around the knee.
"I don't blame coach. I'm a team player. Like I said, I'll be doing the looks for the corners, writing up a report for McGloin and helping the best that I can. I'm hoping that he has a lot of success. At the end of the day, like I said, I've just got to get healthy. That's all I can really control."