Raiders still seeking answers at quarterback
The Oakland Raiders hoped they had the quarterback to build the franchise around after Terrelle Pryor dazzled in a victory over the San Diego Chargers 11 weeks ago that showed flashes of what he could bring as a dual-threat quarterback.
Instead of building on that strong start, Pryor regressed and eventually lost his starting job to undrafted rookie Matt McGloin.
McGloin will make his sixth start of the season on Sunday for the Raiders (4-10) against the Chargers (7-7) and the organization still is searching for the long-term solution at quarterback that has eluded the Raiders since Rich Gannon left almost a decade ago.
Oakland is playing out the string of its 11th straight non-winning season with much of the focus on what they have to build on for the future.
''I think both these guys have shown signs of being a quarterback in the National Football League,'' coach Dennis Allen said. ''I don't think either one of them is a finished product yet. We're going to look at these last two games and try to see what we have and see what we need to do going into the future.''
Pryor showed signs of being that guy by winning two of his first four starts, capped by the strong performance against the Chargers when he completed 18 of 23 passes for 221 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in a 27-17 victory.
But he has struggled since then, completing 49.2 percent of his passes, with nine interceptions, one touchdown and a league-worst 40.7 passer rating in that span. He lost his starting job after trying to play through a sprained knee injury in a loss against the New York Giants on Nov. 10 and then blaming the injury for his poor performance.
McGloin made a triumphant debut the following week in Houston, becoming the fourth quarterback since the 1970 merger to throw three touchdown passes and no interceptions in his first start.
But McGloin has lost four straight starts since then, with his worst coming last week when he threw four interceptions and lost a fumble in a 56-31 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
''It is tough,'' McGloin said. ''As competitors we don't like to lose. We put so much time and so much effort in that to get beat isn't something that you expect or want. Again, we just have to work harder, stay later, watch more film and work harder in the weight room. We have to find a solution for it.''
But McGloin remains the starter as Allen has praised his big-play ability with a league-high 15 passes of at least 25 yards since becoming the starter.
The Raiders have sprinkled Pryor back into the offense the past two weeks. He played an entire series in a 37-27 loss to the New York Jets on Dec. 8, leading Oakland to a field goal. Pryor then got 15 snaps last week against the Chiefs, coming in and out of the game as the Raiders put in a special package of plays to capitalize on his athleticism.
''You always want to play and you always want to be in the game,'' Pryor said. ''If they think that's the best way to go about it, OK. Coach Allen is our leader. It's on them. Whatever he wants to do I'm all for it.''
Two of the four quarterbacks who entered training camp competing for jobs are no longer with the Raiders. Matt Flynn, who had the inside track to be the starter, was released in October and is now in Green Bay helping the Packers fight for the NFC North title.
Fourth-round pick Tyler Wilson, who spent most of the season on the practice squad, was signed by Tennessee to the active roster earlier this week.
Oakland also could be in the market to draft a quarterback in May and despite wasting draft picks to trade for Flynn and select Wilson and paying Flynn $6.5 million in guaranteed money, Allen believes strongly that the organization can identify the right quarterbacks.
''Sometimes things don't work out. Sometimes mistakes are made,'' he said. ''But, I'm very confident in Reggie McKenzie and the personnel staff of being able to evaluate football players - quarterbacks, offensive linemen, defensive linemen.''
NOTES: S Charles Woodson (ribs) and LB Miles Burris (ankle) returned to practice on a limited basis. ... LB Sio Moore missed practice with an illness. ... DT Vance Walker (concussion) worked out on the side and has a chance to play Sunday if he can practice Friday.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org