Second-year quarterback Terrelle Pryor arrived late in training camp last season as a result of being selected by the Raiders in the third round of the NFL supplemental draft.
That, combined with his having to serve a five-game suspension for a violation of NCAA rules at Ohio State, set back Pryor’s development.
Well, now he’s on equal footing with his teammates and ready to make strides toward being a starting NFL quarterback. He realizes that he has to wait his turn, given the Raiders have veteran Carson Palmer on the roster, too. However, he is doing everything he can so that he will be ready when called upon.
Here is what Pryor had to say in a lenghty interview after a recent organized team activity in Alameda:
Q: How much further ahead are you with an actual offseason to work with?
Pryor: Big time in terms of footwork, confidence, believing in myself. All of that stuff is miles ahead with more great things to come.
Q: Interview with Sports Illustrated, questioned things?
Pryor: I’m not going to talk about that. That’s in the past.
Q: How difficult was last year?
Pryor: It was just hard not playing. It’d be like you not being able to report or do something that you love. You maybe love to golf and you can’t, you have a sore arm or whatever or your back and you can’t golf anymore. It just gets frustrating.
Q: How different is the offense?
Pryor: This offense is great. I love this offense. Coach Knapp has got some good stuff going for Carson, myself and Matt. It’s a great opportunity to be a part of this, I’ll tell you that much.
Q: Offensive coordinator Greg Knapp believes in you. How much does that help?
Pryor: I’m not saying that he’s supposed to. I work hard and I do the right thing just like Carson does, just like Matt does. That’s how it should be.
Q: Disappointed they signed Matt Leinart?
A: This is the business of football. You have to have a strong core quarterback group because that’s really what leads the team. Defense does win games, yes. You need everybody to be on the same page, but you need a quarterback to know what’s going on and be able to lead the team. I’m not discouraged at all that Matt’s here. Matt’s a great guy and I’m going to go about my business getting better and working hard and no one out-working me. That’s how I live and that’s how I do things every day, and it won’t change.
Q: Did you get 1 percent better
Pryor: Oh yeah. Big big huge improvement. I spent a lot of time with Coach DiFilipio and I cleaned up the footwork, taking my feet in my progression and nothing but good results.
Q: You really competing for No. 2 spot or content to be No.3?
Pryor: Oh, yes, I’m competing to play.
Q: Have to caution to not try to overdo it after missing last year?
Pryor: Naw, I just go within the plays that I get and within the reps that I get. Just like I said, my 1 percent. I live by that code because that’s all I want to do. I want to get myself better. I’m not worried about … I mean sure, I learned a lot from Carson but I’m not going to worry about what he’s doing. I’m not going to worry about what Matt’s doing because I have to be on my A game every day. I’m competing to play in the second spot, competing to play, get in the game a leader on the field, off the field? That’s the questions I ask myself to see if I got an A today or I got one percent better or what?
Q: Each quarterback have a different skill set?
Pryor: I got a big arm, too. A big arm. I just happen to be able to run and that just adds on to my arsenal. If you go throughout the reads and do the right progression and throw the ball to the right spot where you want it to be, and if nothing’s there and I take off, then that’s a plus.
Q: What did you think about rookie wide receiver Juron Criner?
Pryor: He saved Carson, he saved myself, he saved Matt also. He’s a player. He has learned, just like myself and everybody else, he’s going to be a good one. He catches everything that comes near him. I was very impressed with him.
Q: Relief to get back on the field?
Pryor: It’s good to play this game that I love and continuing to get better every day. It’s a blessing. Different circumstances because I’m behind somebody that’s very talented. I wouldn’t want to learn from anybody else than Carson. But I’m in a different position, I’m working hard to get better every day and learn from him and taking mental reps while he’s in there taking snaps. That’s all I can do right now.
Q: What’s it like learning from Palmer?
Pryor: As a person, he’s one of the best people I’ve ever met, the way he handles his work but he also gets into my technique to fix what I did wrong. He’s great. I couldn’t ask for anyone better.
Q: Coaching change, worry you might not have a place?
Pryor: No, because I knew my work ethic would … I know coaches come in and have a different perspective about you or whoever the player is, and I knew my work ethic and how I drop and do the things that they wanted me to do. It carried myself over into what they wanted done. If I wasn’t doing it right in practice or whatever we’re doing in drills, I would be out here working by myself so it is what they want. But that didn’t really come into my mind.
Q: This offseason, where did you improve?
Pryor: Really just footwork and having a chance to learn the offense. I didn’t know anything last year, nothing at all. I knew some of the stuff going into games and stuff like that but starting from Day 1 here right now when the new coaches came in. On the other hand I came in last year at the end of camp and everything was already put in. I couldn’t ask the coach, the offensive coordinator. We didn’t even have a quarterbacks coach so I couldn’t even learn anything from that standpoint. So this is definitely a blessing and this is in God’s hands.
Q: What was that one play you were in for going to be if it hadn’t been negated by the penalty?
PRYOR: Just a quarterback sneak. But I mean, I was doing what I was told. I never heard of a rule — neither did any of our coaches know the rule — of getting under the center too fast and snapping the ball too fast.
Did you know that?
Q: No, I didn’t know that, either. So it’s unfortunate…
Q: Were there going to be more plays for you in that game?
PRYOR: I had a whole package in. But I think that whole package didn’t come in maybe because of that play or the score ended up being 21-7 or 21-0, I can’t remember. That screwed it up, too.
Q: You think you could’ve played more in the following games if that play had gone better?
PRYOR: I don’t know. I was told to take the snap just like I did. So I obeyed my coaches and did exactly what they told me to do. But it’s my fault. We’ll do it like that. I’ll take the responsibility. The score–I’ll take it as the score was 21-7 and I couldn’t get in.
Q: Do you have any indication that they might be adding specialty plays for you this season?
PRYOR: Competing to play. Carson is the starter and he’s going to be the starter. But I don’t put myself as I’m going to be backup. I mean, I don’t sit around saying, ‘I want to be a backup, that’s what I want to be.’ That’s not how I operate. That’s not how I want to be. I’m going to work to play. And Carson’s always played well and always will. Whenever the opportunity comes for me to play, I’ll play. But I’m not planning to be a back-up. Get that correct.
Q: How much does it help to have a veteran like Carson to learn from?
PRYOR: Oh, he’s great. A lot of the stuff I know right now I’ve learned from Carson. It’s just great to have him here.
Q: What kinds of stuff does he say to you?
PRYOR: Just something small, like we were watching film today and I threw a pass, I completed it, but after the play he’s like, ‘Look where your left foot was, your pointer foot, it was turned inside.’ And I was throwing the ball across the field. So little things like that that he does all the time. That’s a big help just to hear it from him. He’s taking all his time to give a word for me to get better.
Q: Dennis Allen has said there’s a lot in you to prove to people you can play quarterback in the NFL. Is that a driving thing for you?
PRYOR: Yeah. I’m just looking for my opportunity, because when I get an opportunity, it’s on from there. Of course, it fuels me that people say I couldn’t be a quarterback or stuff like that. But my plan is in God’s hands, like I said before, and with my work ethic and within myself. And whatever anybody else says it’s irrelevant to me. It really doesn’t matter to me.
Q: Did you ever get a chance to talk to Al Davis?
PRYOR: I talked to him a couple times a week before he passed. He would give me a call. Just a couple times a week–he would just tell me he believed in me and stuff like that. Nothing very… I’m not sure exactly what was going on with him… We would get on the phone and we would chat.
Q: Do you view this almost as a true rookie year for you because of the limitations of last year?
PRYOR: What I can say about last year is I learned the speed of the corners, I learned what the NFL is, in terms of, you have to get back and get rid of the ball. The rush is between the D-linemen getting to you, nothing else. So I learned the speed of the D-linemen, you’ve got to get the ball out fast because of them. You’ve got to throw at different angles. From that standpoint, no, I’d say this is my second year. Because I learned an awful lot by taking snaps against the first team in… the practice-role doing the scout team. I learned a lot in terms of physical stuff like that. So I learned a good bit. I’d say this is my second year because I did learn a lot.
Q: Have you convinced some of the WRs to stay out here for you to throw to?
PRYOR: Oh yeah. We’ve got a bunch of hard-working guys. We also have guys that want to get better. No one’s good enough not to get enough work.
Q: Allen has said how hard a worker you are. You think you surprise coaches sometimes by working that hard?
PRYOR: I like to work hard, you know? Because when it’s my time to play, I want to be more than ready. I want guys to be like, ‘Wow.’ That’s it.
Q: When’s that going to be?
PRYOR: Whenever the time comes.
Q: When you have those conversations with Al Davis, does that motivate you?
PRYOR: Yeah, that drives me. Because the last pick–the last pick may not mean anything. I might not mean nothing to anybody. But to me, you know, it kind of felt like–last pick of a guy that made a legacy of football. He was just a well-known guy. Being the last pick… I mean, that’s special, just in that sense, just how his name is always brought up. He’s on HBO shows now after his death. It’s just an honor, how much I have to, I want to.
Q: What’s it like to finally have a QBs coach, like DeFilippo, unlike last year?
PRYOR: Oh, it’s great. You learn. He’s all about technique and stuff. He works with me, I’m always around him, I’m always texting him, getting input, so it’s great. To have somebody to lean on when I need to know something, (instead of)
just having an offensive coordinator. I mean, I never heard of that before. I didn’t know what I was getting into coming in here. It’s definitely great that Mr. McKenzie got a quarterback coach because I’m learning a lot.
Q: Was it DeFilippo who noticed the technique work you needed?
PRYOR: A lot of my throws, it was all in my feet, in my hips and how I carried my feet. Since I picked up that stuff up, my balls are becoming very accurate. It’s helping.
Q: You’re already noticing a difference?
PRYOR: Oh, yes, huge. Huge difference. I sit back in the film room and I watch Carson and then Carson helps me. So it’s great. I’ve got a great opportunity and it’s a great time. Because I’m learning a great bit.