By Steve Corkran
Wednesday, November 28th, 2012 at 4:44 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Second-year quarterback Terrelle Pryor spoke at length Wednesday about what life is like sitting behind Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart, how he spends his time and how much progress he has made since training camp.
One thing he doesn't do is look at the rapid ascension of 49ers second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick and wonder what if?
"I don’t judge myself by other people," Pryor said. "What he does is what he does. I’m just confident I could go in and make some plays as much as I can. If God gives me the blessing to do that, I look forward to it. But if not, I’ll roll on. I’ll be OK. I’ll be back for next year."
Coach Dennis Allen said Monday that he and his coaches have "discussed" the prospect of playing Pryor in some capacity this season.
Allen said Wednesday that there's a possibility of Pryor being active Sunday against the Cleveland Browns as the No. 3 quarterback. Pryor hasn't been active for any of Oakland's first 11 games.
Pryor has little chance of playing in a game if he's the No. 3 quarterback. Yet, at some point Allen said he wants to get a look at Pryor.
"There will be a time where we’ve got to look at him and see what he can do," Allen said.
Especially if the Raiders have any intention of moving on from Palmer anytime in the next two seasons. Palmer is signed through 2016, Pryor is under contract through 2014.
It's on thing to see Pryor play in an exhibition game, it's quite another to see him play against, say, the Denver Broncos in a game that counts in the standings and has huge playoff implications for the Broncos.
To that end, Pryor said he has the playbook down pat and feels as if he is ready to turn it loose in a game.
"It’s kind of like picking an opponent on paper," Pryor said. "You can say you’ve got it, but once you get on the field, you don’t know if you’ve got it. I don’t know if I do or not, but if we were to talk and you were to give me a formation for this upcoming week I’d know every single play. I’d know where everyone’s at, I’d know all the responsibilities. That’s on paper, that’s not on the field, with four guys 300-pounds are flying at you. So, I don’t know."
Pryor is confident that he has improved a great deal since training camp, when he talked at length about the need to get better with his footwork and accuracy.
"I’ve been doing a lot of footwork," Pryor said. "It’s amazing, the accuracy that I have now. I’m able to step into my throws and throw exactly where I want the ball at, and I just keep getting better at that. As a quarterback, you never get to that level where you stop working. There’s always room for improvement and that’s all I’m looking for."
Palmer has mentored Pryor since the day he arrived in a trade from the Cincinnati Bengals last October. He said he realizes that Pryor is in a difficult situation. At the same time, he is impressed by the way Pryor handles himself.
"There’s been zero dropoff," Palmer said of Pryor's commitment. "He’s in a tough spot being the third-stringer, where you don’t get a chance to dress out, but (he) studies his butt off, continues to work, gets as many reps as he can in practice, is completely in it."
-- Nos. 1 and 2 running backs Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson returned to practice today after missing the past three games.
Allen said, "They look like they’re working their way back."
Which is another way of saying, they have a ways to go before they're as sharp as they were before they suffered high-ankle sprains Nov. 4.
Allen said McFadden and Goodson took reps with the first-team offense, even though they were limited in their participation. The weather Sunday won't impact the decision whether they play against the Browns or not, Allen added.
Regardless of how well and how fast they heal, Allen said fullback Marcel Reece will continue to be a vital part of the rushing attack.
"Marcel has earned the right to carry the ball some," Allen said. "We’ll still use him in that capacity, yes."
Palmer said it's a benefit to the Raiders just having Reece on the field, especially when he is in the backfield at the same time as McFadden.
"It gives you something to worry about defensively preparing for us," Palmer said. "You don't know. Marcel's been in the backfield to block when Darren's been in the games and now gives us a little more unknown, you don;t know exactly what's coming at you.
"Marcel can catch a ball out of the backfield, he can run it. Darren can block, Marcel can run it. Gives us just kind of another dimension. That's the right way to say it: earned the right. Because the way he's run and you don't expect a fullback to come in and be the starting tailback and be as good as he's been."
Reece rushed for 225 yards at an average of 4.8 yards the past three games, whereas McFadden averaged only 3.3 yards in the eight games he played before the injury.
-- Rookie wide receiver Rod Streater started the regular-season opener, in part because of injuries to Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford. Now, he is at the point where he played only five snaps last Sunday.
Meanwhile, fellow rookie receiver Juron Criner is headed the opposite way. Criner went from not playing early on to 40 snaps against the Bengals last Sunday.
This is yet another sign of the Raiders doing the pruden thing, taking a look at younger, inexperienced players between now and the end of the season.
"It's more of a situation where we want to get a look at Juron Criner, a guy that we drafted, a young guy that we think highly of," Allen said. "He’s getting more comfortable in the offense. ... There are some young guys we want to make sure we get a look at, and he’s obviously one of those guys, that we drafted, we like him. We've got to let him play."
Criner said there's room for all the receivers to fill a role on the team, given their diverse talents.
“There’s a lot of things that we all bring to the table that one of the others don’t," Criner said. "I just add a bigger frame to the run game on the outside blocking, red-zone, coming across the middle. I’ll try to be whatever you want me to be and do whatever you want me to do.”
-- Allen shot down any suggestion that he took a more active role in caling the defensive plays during the Bengals game. He said the play-calling was handled the same way it has been handled all year with he and defensive coordinator Jason Tarver in concert.
-- The recent struggles of right guard Mike Brisiel haven't gone unnoticed by Allen.
Yet, Allen doesn't sound too concerned about Brisiel getting to the point where he is a reliable asset and not a sometimes liability.
"He has obviously struggled some," Allen said. "But he’s working extremely hard to try to get better and he knows he needs to play better. And he takes a lot of pride in it. It’s important to him. And that’s important to me, to make sure, I want guys that want it to be important to him."
Brisiel said he wasn't pleased with the way he played against the Bengals.
"We did some things, me personally, that hurt ourselves," Brisiel said. "I just got to go back and work on it."
-- Palmer is 9-3 against the Browns all-time, with 25 touchdowns, 14 interceptions and a 90.6 passer rating.
He said the Browns have a slew of new faces on the roster since the last time he played them -- he wasn't here last season when the Raiders beat the Browns -- but their overall approach remains the same.
"A lot has changed personnel wise and look-wise, but they always seem to be a big physical group that can still rush the passer," Palmer said. "There’s a lot of teams that you play that are really big and physical and are there to stop the run and push the pocket, but they have two guys on the edge that can rush the passer. Just a good, physical group up front."