The Oakland Raiders are ready to get a long look at Terrelle Pryor to see if he can be their quarterback of the future.
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Pryor got the nod to start Sunday’s season finale in San Diego in place of the injured Carson Palmer. After being deemed not ready to be the backup when Palmer got hurt last week in Carolina, Pryor now gets the chance to make his first career start.
”We know what his strengths are, we know what his weaknesses are,” coach Dennis Allen said Friday. ”But really, to give him an opportunity to go out in a game, against a division opponent, at their place, and give him a chance to play, it gives us a view into the future.”
Allen said he told Pryor and Matt Leinart early in the week that he was leaning to Pryor but wanted to see how practice developed. He said he thought Pryor responded well and now wants to see what his athleticism can bring to a team that has failed to score a touchdown the past two weeks.
Pryor said he’s confident he is ready to start his first game since the Sugar Bowl for Ohio State against Arkansas on Jan. 4, 2011, but admitted to having some anxiety.
”I’m nervous. Until the first play I’m going to be nervous,” he said. ”I’m human like you guys. I’m human like everybody. I just happen to play one of the best sports in the world. I’ll be nervous until the first snap.”
Pryor was taken in the third round of the supplemental draft in August 2011 by late Raiders owner Al Davis. Pryor missed almost all of training camp and then served a five-game suspension before he could be activated. He got on the field just once as a rookie – committing a false start before his only play – as he needed to work on his footwork and mechanics.
Pryor got a few chances to shine in the preseason but was then inactive the first 11 games of this year. He played briefly the past two weeks in specialty packages. He completed one of two passes for 5 yards, ran the ball once for 2 yards and caught a 22-yard pass.
Pryor said he guarantees he will have no problems with the logistics of quarterback, calling the play in the huddle, getting to the line of scrimmage on time and recognizing defenses.
”I’m confident,” he said. ”I’m sure my teammates have confidence in me as well. Like I said, you can’t put everything on my shoulders, can’t try to do everything. Just go out and let the players make plays and let myself make plays.”
Pryor will be the 15th player to start at quarterback for the Raiders since the start of the 2003 season.
”Of course he brings the running ability, but he’s trying to be a leader out there, have command of the huddle and doing the job that a starting quarterback should do,” receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey said.
Leinart had hoped to be able to make his third start since 2007 but thought the Raiders might give the nod to Pryor to see what he can do in a real game.
”The competitor in me wants to play, wants to start, but I do understand that they need to evaluate him, and I get that,” Leinart said. ”Obviously, you’re not happy by any means, but at the same time I’m a team player. I’ve learned a lot this year, and I’m happy to help.”
The Raiders also could have a new starter on the offensive line as starting right guard Mike Brisiel missed his third straight practice as he recovers from an ankle injury and concussion.
Brisiel, one of Oakland’s biggest free-agent signings this past offseason, has struggled in his first season with the Raiders. He has committed a team-high 10 penalties and been part of a running game that has struggled to generate any consistency.
Brisiel is listed as questionable and will be a game-time decision. If he can’t start, rookie Tony Bergstrom would get the nod. Bergstrom was Oakland’s top draft pick in April at 95th overall but has struggled to get on the field. He has played eight games this season and gotten 75 snaps on offense, with most coming as a tight end in Oakland’s six-linemen alignment.
”He’s going to go through some growing pains like any new player would,” offensive coordinator Greg Knapp said. ”I feel good about him. I like what I’ve seen in practice. I also have seen the rookie mistakes that I know this might show up in a game. But I’m looking forward to get him some reps to see him play live.”
Notes: CB Phillip Adams will be placed on IR with a groin injury and be replaced in the lineup by Brandian Ross, who has played well as a reserve in recent weeks. … DB Cory Nelms and DL Brandon Bair will be activated from the practice squad for Sunday’s game. S Tyvon Branch (neck, ankle) returned to practice Friday and is listed as questionable.