Suddenly, Terrelle Pryor’s stock is rising.
For most of his first two seasons in the NFL, the quarterback was a forgotten man on the Raiders’ roster. He was considered a much-too-raw project, an athletically gifted player who was far from being ready for a prime-time role in the NFL.
This past season, Pryor was No. 3 on the team’s depth chart behind Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart, and it seemed unlikely he’d ever throw a pass in a game, much less start one.
Yet when Pryor was hurt in the Raiders’ 15th game and Leinart played poorly in relief, Pryor was given the chance to start Game No. 16 against the Chargers. Oakland lost, but Pryor showed enough flashes of brilliance – along with occasional flashes of ineptitude – to earn some praise from his teammates and coaches.
In the 24-21 loss to the Chargers, Pryor completed 13-of-28 throws for 150 yards, two TDs and an interception. He also ran nine times for 49 yards and a score.
Now, Pryor apparently will get the chance to compete for the starting quarterback position in training camp.
Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie said in a Sirius radio interview with Fox Sports’ Alex Marvez and Jim Miller that Pryor deserves a chance to prove himself.
“He needs to see if he can take a game over in the preseason, make some plays and carry out a game plan,” McKenzie said in the interview. “Let him compete. That’s what it’s all about. If it looks like he can help us win, at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. That’s what we want.”
McKenzie said it was good to see Pryor in his one start “implement a game plan.”
“He carried it out, played the game and showed us what he can do,” he said. “He definitely flashed some things that we’re going to try and see what we can do with him in the offseason.”
Palmer, 33, put up some decent numbers in 2012, and the Raiders’ 4-12 record can’t be hung on his shoulders. The offensive line never mastered the new zone blocking scheme, running back Darren McFadden didn’t perform as well as he had in 2011 and 2010 and injuries depleted the receiving corps. Plus, for much of the season, Oakland’s defense was one of the worst in the NFL.
Palmer, who missed the final 1½ games, completed 61.1 percent of his passes, threw for 4,018 yards and had 22 TD passes vs. 14 interceptions. He’s under contract for 2013 and considered a solid, veteran QB who’ll be able to guide the offense under new coordinator Greg Olson, just hired from Jacksonville.
McKenzie said Palmer is recovering from the broken ribs he suffered in Game No. 15, and is on track to be at full health soon and ready to play.
Now, for the first time publicly however, McKenzie has opened the door to the possibility of Pryor being a quarterback-in-waiting to step in for Palmer.
McKenzie is well aware of Pryor’s size, strength, speed and ability to throw a pass a long way down the field, but now he wants to see the former Ohio State star work to develop his skills and challenge for a job.
“That’s fine to be a great athlete,” McKenzie said in the radio interview. “We’ve got a lot of great athletes who can run. I want them to be great football players. I want them to take their game plan and execute it. Just make plays.”