OAKLAND (CBS/AP) – Terrelle Pryor has been waiting a long time to play in a football game.
After an aborted rookie season with the Oakland Raiders that included no preseason games and a penalty before his only snap in the regular season, Pryor is more than ready for this season’s exhibition opener. Pryor will get that chance Monday night when the Raiders play at home against the Dallas Cowboys.
While Oakland coach Dennis Allen is not even telling his players how much or when they will play, he did say Pryor would get plenty of snaps at quarterback behind starter Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart.
“I can’t wait,” Pryor said. “It’s been a long time for me to play football. It’s what I was born to do. God blessed me. He gave me great talent and I just want to try to … use it again. It’s been a long time.
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Pryor got very little out of a rookie season that was doomed from the start. He didn’t decide to leave Ohio State until after the NFL draft following an investigation into the team’s memorabilia-for-cash scandal that cost coach Jim Tressel his job.
Commissioner Roger Goodell allowed Pryor into the supplemental draft but ruled he must serve the five-game suspension he would have faced in college. The Raiders used a third-round pick on Aug. 22 to select Pryor and signed him three days later.
Pryor got to participate in only three practices and no exhibition games before his suspension kicked in, limiting him to team meetings and individual drills without coaches.
Even when Pryor was activated, he mostly was a scout-team quarterback as the third-stringer behind Palmer and Kyle Boller.
Pryor got in once last season on Oct. 23 against Kansas City. He was sent in for a third-and-1 quarterback sneak. Pryor said he was told to call for a quick snap and go for the first down. Instead, he was penalized for a false start for not pausing a second under center before the snap.
Boller threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown on the following play and Pryor never saw the field again that season.
He figures to get much more time Monday night.
“I’m just going to go in and try to perfect the play, go through the read. Like coach says, my feet got to stay on time,” Pryor said. “When I go through the read, just keep the right read, and if I keep my feet on time, I’ll be good.”
After getting little coaching last season because Oakland did not have a quarterbacks coach and head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Al Saunders spent most of their time preparing Palmer for each game, Pryor has been soaking in all the instruction he can get from coordinator Greg Knapp and position coach John DeFilippo.
The primary focus has been on improving Pryor’s footwork after he spent most of his college career playing out of the shotgun. The results have been uneven so far in camp, with Pryor mixing pinpoint throws with others wildly off-target as he strives for consistency.
“Coming out of high school, I was just an athlete that just, whenever the guy was open, I didn’t know what I was reading,” he said. “When I saw a guy open, I threw the ball. Now, coming out of college, I learned to read defenses. I wasn’t blessed enough to be at a powerhouse that you learn that stuff as a quarterback. So, I’m working and I’m going to get good.”
While Pryor said he prefers throwing touchdowns to running for them, his sprinter speed gives him an added dimension when the play breaks down.
“He runs like a deer,” safety Mike Mitchell said. “It’s just what you saw in college. We’re all fast guys on defense, but if you don’t get him in the first 10 yards … put your head down and start running. I would like to see him run it a little bit more. He has scary speed.”
While exhibition games can be tedious for proven veterans, they are a great opportunity for younger players to shine.
This will also be the first chance for Oakland’s rookies to make an impression in a game setting. Fourth-round linebacker Miles Burris will likely start in place of injured Aaron Curry, third-round offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom should see plenty of time with the reserves and fifth-round receiver Juron Criner looks to show that his stellar play on the practice field can transfer to games.
“I just have to go prove them right for picking me,” Burris said. “Play the way that I play the game, and that’s as hard as I can play, and try to make plays and be consistent like coach Allen talked about and just prove that I can play in the NFL and run with anybody.”
Notes: LB Mario Kurn and WR Duke Calhoun will undergo season-ending surgery after tearing knee ligaments on Saturday. … Injured LB Aaron Curry remains in Los Angeles where he is receiving a series of treatments from a knee specialist. … WRs Denarius Moore (hamstring) and Eddie McGee (hamstring), and RBs Mike Goodson (neck) and Taiwan Jones (hamstring) will be held out of the preseason opener.
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