By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Friday, December 28th, 2012 at 4:58 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Ready or not, here he comes.
Terrelle Pryor will start the Raiders regular-season finale Sunday at quarterback against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium, coach Dennis Allen announced Friday.
“I feel that I’m ready,’’ Pryor said. “I felt comfortable. I felt like a leader in the huddle when I was in there. I feel good about it and look forward to the opportunity.’’
Allen said Pryor and backup Matt Leinart had been told earlier in the week Pryor was the likely starter in place of Carson Palmer, who is out with a bruised lung and cracked ribs.
“I wanted to see how each player responded,’’ Allen said. “I thought Terrelle responded well. I think he gives us a unique element of athleticism at the quarterback position and I think he deserves to get an opportunity to get out there and see what he can do.’’
It will be Pryor’s first start since the leading Ohio State to a 31-26 win over Arkansas while being named Most Valuable Player of the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 4, 2011.
A third-round supplemental draft pick in 2011, Pryor was a late arrival last preseason and then served five-game suspension imposed by the NFL related to NCAA infractions for accepting improper benefits.
Active for the last four games, Pryor got three snaps in each of the last two games _ a three-and-out series against the Kansas City Chiefs and three plays in specialty situations as a shotgun quarterback against Carolina.
Pryor described his ascension as a “progression,’’ starting with making the team, eventually becoming active, getting a few plays, and “now it comes to this. Will I respond? We’ll see Sunday. I’m confident.’’
Leinart, who was 16 of 32 for 115 yards with an interception against Carolina, said he felt Allen was leaning towards Pryor all along but promised, “I’m going to help him. Anything he needs. The competitor in me wants to start, but I understand they need to evaluate him.’’
Allen said the decision was based on giving the Raiders (4-11) the best chance to win against the Chargers (6-9) team as well as keeping an eye toward 2013.
“We’ve been around Terrelle for a whole season, and we know what his strengths are, we know what his weaknesses are,’’ Allen said. “To give him an opportunity, against a division opponent at their place, it gives us a view into the future.’’
Pryor understands his mission statement _ get the Raiders to the line of scrimmage on time, avoid mistakes and score points.
He promises there will be no issues with confusion with getting plays off on time.
“I can guarantee this _ I won’t have a problem with that,’’ Pryor said. “Last year was a whirlwind. It was hard for me. But I’ve been studying. Coach gives me a formation, I can give you the play.’’
Pryor expects to be nervous, just as he was at Ohio State when crowds were 90,000 or more. He said Palmer told him, “I’m nervous until the first play is over.’’
— Brandian Ross will start at cornerback opposite Michael Huff as Phillip Adams was placed on injured reserve with a groin injury. Right guard Mike Brisiel remained out with an ankle injury and is questionable, with Tony Bergstrom prepared to start if necessary.
Cornerback Corey Nelms and defensive tackle Brandon Bair were promoted from the practice squad to replace Adams and Richard Seymour, who went on I.R. Thursday. Nelms, Allen said, would be active as a reserve cornerback and special teams player.
– Carolina defensive end Greg Hardy was fined $25,000 for the helmet-to-the-back hit that left Palmer with a bruised lung and cracked ribs, ending his season. Quarterback Cam Newton was fined $10,000 for kicking defensive tackle Tommy Kelly, who was penalized 15 yards for unnecessary roughness.
“I’m free,’’ Kelly said. “It finally worked out for the good guys.’’