BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Following an unexpected delay, the Terrelle Pryor Project has resumed.
Attempting to shift from NFL quarterback to wide receiver with the Cleveland Browns, Pryor returned to practice Saturday after missing more than one week with a hamstring injury. The former Oakland QB impressed the Browns early in training camp with how quickly he adjusted to his new position, but coach Mike Pettine said Pryor’s physical tools will only take him so far.
"He is not guaranteed a (roster) spot, but I also wouldn’t write him off," Pettine said. "He is still in-between. That send of urgency now is ramped up. It is a tighter window to see it. We are certainly not going to just hand him a spot based on potential. He’s got to show us, but what he’s showed us so far has been encouraging."
Pryor knows he can’t do anything about what the coaching staff or general manager Ray Farmer plan to do when it comes to finalizing Cleveland’s 53-man roster, so why bother trying.
"I don’t worry about anything I can’t control," Pryor said. "I just go out and make plays when I can and try to help the team to the best of my ability. I don’t really worry about what the coaches decide. I just know that if I give my all, that’s my best chance."
Pryor seemed to be a natural during the first part of camp, when he stood out among Cleveland’s wide receivers because of his size (6-foot-4, 225 pounds) and speed. He was a quick study in running routes, and Pryor said it didn’t take him long to learn how to best use his physical gifts to get separation from cornerbacks who tried to cover him tightly.
"I’m finally starting to understand how to use my strength, my upper-body strength, my legs and stuff like that," he said, "so moving the guys isn’t really a big deal."
Pryor said he needs to re-fine his routes and he’s been trying to pick up some tips by watching Browns receiver Brian Hartline, a former teammate at Ohio State.
Pryor doesn’t think he has a lot of catching up to do now that he’s back. He stayed sharp while he was sidelined by taking mental reps and staying engaged during film work and meetings. He missed Cleveland’s exhibition opener, but expects to play Thursday night when the Browns host the Buffalo Bills. The teams will practice against each other on Monday and Tuesday in Rochester, New York.
Pettine said the club will be cautious with Pryor, but there is now an urgency to see if he can help the Browns.
"We’ll take it slow," he said. "He has done a good job staying engaged mentally, so that hasn’t dropped off. He’s sharp. He’s standing behind asking the right questions. We will be very mindful of his work load, but at the same time we’ve still got to get him out there and see what he can do."
Pryor, who went 3-7 as a starter for the Raiders, is determined to make the switch and doesn’t think the setback will slow him.
"I believe deeply, wholeheartedly, if I put my heart into something, I want to be great for the Browns," he said. "So after I made that transition, that was my first thought when I arrived with the Browns, like `all right, I want to be great for the Browns.’ When I put my mind to something I’m full throttle and I want to accomplish that thing."
NOTES: Rookie RB Duke Johnson took part in some of practice after being out the past 10 days with a hamstring injury. It’s not known if the third-round pick will play Thursday. … The Browns will board a charter train following Sunday’s practice and head to Rochester. Pettine said logistics made a train the best mode of transportation. … Pettine remains close with Bills coach Rex Ryan, the pair worked together on the New York Jets’ staff. "He’ll be a friend until I take my last breath," Pettine said. … Pettine wants to have clean practices with the Bills, and he’ll talk to his players about being "competitive but not combative. But understand we’re not going up there to have a pillow fight either."