The Raiders went into Thursday night’s final exhibition game hoping that quarterback Terrelle Pryor and rookie left tackle Menelik Watson would look like starters.
Pryor didn’t shine as he had last week against the Saints, when he came on in relief of Matt Flynn to wow Raiders fans with his arm and his legs, rallying his team from a huge hole to make the game close. Thursday night in a 22-6 loss to the Seahawks in Seattle – Oakland’s third straight loss -- Pryor started, completed just 3-of-8 passes and threw an interception, but ran for 48 yards on three carries, including one burst for 25 yards.
Sometimes he looked out of rhythm. Sometimes he looked terrific. Mostly, though, even on an up-and-down night in which he played the entire first half and led his team to two field goals, he looked like a better option than Flynn.
As Bay Area News Group columnist Tim Kawakami tweeted, “Terrelle Pryor wasn’t great, but he wasn’t terrible, so he’s the Raiders’ QB for Week 1, you’d have to think.”
Pro Football Talk’s Curtis Crabtree noted that Pryor’s performance was “anything but spectacular,” but probably good enough.
Earlier this week, in assessing Pryor, offensive coordinator Greg Olson had said that the Raiders were looking for playmakers, and that Pryor is capable of making plays. Thursday night, he twice picked up good yardage on scrambles – something he might have to do often with a shaky offensive line and suspect group of receivers.
For now, it appears that when the Raiders open the regular season Sept. 8 vs. the Indianapolis Colts, Pryor will be given the chance to make those plays.
Watson, by all accounts, acquitted himself well in his first professional football game.
The big rookie from Florida State, who had played right tackle for the Seminoles, started and played a big chunk of the game against the Seahawks at left tackle, where the Raiders need help. Since starter Jared Veldheer was lost with a partially torn triceps, Alex Boone was given the chance to win the job and couldn’t. The Raiders were hoping Watson could show enough Thursday to give them reason to start him against the Colts.
Apparently, he did.
He looked athletic and aggressive, and most Raiders fans were happy with what they saw. Wrote one: “Menelik Watson pulled off quite a feat tonight holding down the LT spot.” Wrote another: “I’d roll with Menelik Watson at LT. Saw enough to play him over Barron.”
Watson's raw and untested, but at least he showed the upside that made him a second-round pick.