A start on Sunday would allow the Raiders to better evaluate Terrelle Pryor. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Really, there’s no excuse for the Raiders not to start Terrelle Pryor at quarterback Sunday.
At 4-11, Oakland has nothing to lose. It’s just the final game of a long and disappointing regular season, and everyone already knows what Matt Leinart can do.
With starter Carson Palmer out of Game No. 16 at San Diego Sunday afternoon, the Raiders need to give Pryor his first NFL start.
So what if Oakland loses? The only difference between 5-11 and 4-12 for the Raiders is that another loss to the 6-9 Chargers will bring a higher draft pick in April.
After last week’s loss to the Panthers in Carolina when Palmer was injured and Leinart took over, Raiders head coach Dennis Allen said Leinart would start against the Chargers and that Pryor isn’t yet ready.
But since then, after watching film of the Carolina game, Allen has changed his mind and Leinart and Pryor have been sharing snaps in practice in preparation for the season finale. Now, Allen says he’ll wait to name a starter. The two QBs split reps evenly in Wednesday’s practice.
“Both of them looked pretty good,” Allen told Steve Corkran of the Bay Area News Group. “They had a good day out there and both of them got reps with the (starters), and we’ll continue to monitor it as we go through the week. We’ll make a decision at the end of the week which way we’re going to go.”
Allen said that after watching film of last Sunday’s game, “We might need to see a little bit more of Terrelle.”
Pryor, of course, hasn’t had much of a chance to show the Raiders yet what they have in a regular-season game. The big, strong, fast kid with the powerful arm at Ohio State was taken in the third round of the 2011 supplemental draft (costing the Raiders a third-round pick in the 2012 April draft). Athletically, there’s no question Pryor has the ability to be an NFL quarterback.
But his skills in the passing game (footwork, mechanics, accuracy) have been reported as raw and in need of refining since he joined the Raiders.
On Wednesday, however, Pryor told reporters that he sees other young quarterbacks around the league prospering and desperately wants to show that he can replicate their success. Watching the Panthers’ Cam Newton last week, for instance, was an eye-opener for him.
“Watching Cam, it definitely makes my heart jump because when I look at Cam, I see myself,” Pryor told Corkran. “He can throw the rock around, too. I see myself, like I said, and obviously my heart, I just jump out, like, ‘Oh, my God, I want to get in.’ ”
Yet Pryor, as Corkran noted, is saying all the right things. He says there’s a “time and a place” for him to play and he trusts his coaches to know when the right time comes for him to play.
To some, however, it’s a no-brainer. The Raiders need to look at Pryor in extended action to see if there’s something there that can help their future, says Monte Poole, a columnist for the Bay Area News Group.
“No informed decision can be made about much of anything in life without, well, research and study,” wrote Poole. “Pryor demands research and study.”
Giving Pryor some playing time, Poole says, can help bring “clarity to the future” of the Raiders.