Terrelle Pryor will have the stage to himself in a final audition to win the Raiders’ starting quarterback job.
Coach Dennis Allen said Sunday that Matt Flynn won’t play in Oakland’s preseason finale Thursday night at Seattle, opening the door for Pryor to make his first start.
”It’s probably more of a precautionary measure on my part than it is anything else,” Allen said. ”We’ll get a chance to see Terrelle this week with the first-unit offense up against Seattle, and we’ll see how he does.”
The two quarterbacks have been engaged in an increasingly tight competition to run the Raiders offense since the beginning of training camp.
Flynn has been the starter throughout camp but there has been a growing groundswell of support for Pryor as Oakland’s starting offense has struggled in the preseason.
Pryor, who led four scoring drives after replacing Flynn in the second quarter Friday night in a loss to Chicago, has been the Raiders’ most effective quarterback so far. He is the team’s second leading rusher with 83 yards on 11 carries.
The former Ohio State star also is pretty savvy, and he didn’t put any significance on his first start of the preseason.
”Coach told me what the deal was, that Matt wasn’t playing on Friday and he wanted me to jump with the first team and lead them into Seattle,” Pryor said. ”I’m definitely not all the way there in terms of the playbook and in terms of just being a quarterback out there. Don’t get me wrong, I can lead if I was called upon to do it. I’m just out there getting better and trying to get in synch with the guys.”
Flynn was essentially handed the starting job after being acquired in a trade from Seattle during the offseason, but the 28-year-old quarterback hasn’t looked sharp. He has completed more than 70 percent of his passes but most have been check-down throws or short-range tosses.
Injuries to Oakland’s offensive line haven’t helped, either. Second-round pick Menelik Watson, who missed most of training camp with a calf injury, practiced at left tackle on Sunday and will start against the Seahawks even though he has never played the position until now.
That is why many feel the athletic Pryor – who made his only NFL start during the Raiders’ final regular-season game in 2012 – might be a better fit.
”That’s my goal, to be a starting quarterback and to lead a team to wins,” Pryor said. ”I won’t stop until it happens. Until it happens and keeps on happening, I’ll keep on pushing.”
Allen praised Pryor following the game against Chicago, in which he threw one touchdown and ran for another, but noted the third-year quarterback is still very much a work in progress.
”When you have guys who have athletic talent like he does and they work as hard as he has, guys are going to get better, and he’s improved,” Allen said of Pryor. ”It’ll be a good thing to see him in another game situation against a really good defense on the road in that environment and see how he responds.”
With less than two weeks until the season opener in Indianapolis, Allen is in the uniquely strange position of trying to pick a starting quarterback when one of them is unavailable.
Flynn was bothered by tendinitis in his right elbow while with Seattle, and the Raiders believe it is similar to what the quarterback is dealing with now.
”It’s hindered him a little bit,” Flynn said. ”I don’t think it’s been a major factor when we’ve gotten into games. I just think it’s one of those things that we’ve got to manage.
”I don’t want to make it out to be any bigger of an issue than it is.”
The Raiders made several roster moves, including releasing kickoff return specialist Josh Cribbs.
Cribbs had knee surgery in the offseason and signed with the Raiders after eight seasons with the Cleveland Browns. But the 29-year-old Cribbs struggled to regain his speed in training camp. He also fumbled a kickoff in Friday’s loss.
Cribbs’ contract was terminated by the Raiders, leaving him free to sign with any team.
”It was just one of those things where I didn’t see everything that I needed to see,” Allen said. ”We just felt like it was the right thing to do. If we didn’t see him in our plans, to go ahead and let him go.”
Also released were: linebackers Keenan Clayton and Eric Harper, fullback Jon Hoese, wide receivers Sam McGuffie, Tray Session and Isaiah Williams, guard Andrew Robiskie, cornerback Cory Nelms, and defensive tackle Myles Wade.