NAPA — The more you watch Terrelle Pryor, the more convinced you are that he has a legitimate chance to succeed as a quarterback in the NFL. On Saturday, his wide-ranging talents were on full display before 1,000 or so fans.
Coach Dennis Allen also took note of Pryor’s performance, in particular a long throw to rookie wide receiver Brice Butler on a post route.
The ball traveled 60 yards or so in the air and found Butler in stride at the goal line for a touchdown. The fans excitement began with a low rumble as Pryor released the ball, it built as the ball neared its intended target and reached a crescendo when Butler made the catch and landed in the end zone.
“That deep ball was a heck of a play and heck of a throw,” Allen said. “All Terrelle’s got to do is keep his head down and keep working. He has improved and he’s gotten better every day. And that’s what we expect.”
Pryor completed numerous other passes and even showed off his running ability from time to time, when called plays broke down.
— Left offensive tackle Jared Veldheer underwent an MRI on his triceps. The exam returned negative. Allen said he expects Veldheer back at practice soon. Alex Barron took Veldheer’s reps with the first-team offense. Veldheer watched practice while sporting a baseball cap.
— Wide receiver Jacoby Ford returned to practice after missing most of the past five practices. He said a sore tendon behind one of his knees caused him to sit out since last Sunday.
He said the injury just happened without his doing anything to cause it and that it’s nothing to worry about, unlike each of the past two training camps, when he suffered a broken hand and a foot injury.
“At first it was kind of upsetting, but it’s part of the game,” Ford said. “I’m doing everything I can to take care of my body in the right way. That last year, I really had no choice because of the foot surgery. I’m glad to get back from the leg. It’s something just real minor, so it was nothing for me to panic about or anything. It’s just like more nagging than anything and just a little bit frustrating. But I’m fine now.”
Allen said he’s eager to get a long look at Ford, especially given he didn’t get to see Ford for long last season before he needed a season-ending surgery.
— Barron also has received reps at right offensive tackle. However, it sounds as if Khalif Barnes is on solid ground in terms of keeping his starting job.
“I’ve been very pleased with Khalif Barnes,” Allen said. “Where he’s at, he’s done a good job for us.”
— Defensive tackles Vance Walker and Stacy McGee were part of a large contingent of Raiders that missed practice. Walker and McGee just returned to practice Friday, only to be back on the sideline a day later.
In all, more than a dozen players missed practice, though no one new surfaced on the list.
— Allen spoke for the first time since the Raiders signed Sebastian Janikowski to a four-year contract extension. Naturally, he’s thrilled to know that he can check kicker off his list for the next five years.
“That’s great,” Allen said. “He’s one of the best kickers to ever play this game, he’s a weapon for us. I’ve said anytime we cross the 50(-yard line), we’re nearing field-goal range anyway. So, it’s a huge weapon to have a guy like him who puts points on the board for you, so I’m glad we got him.”
Six other key players are in the position Janikowski was in until Friday; entering the final year of their contract — running back Darren McFadden, fullback Marcel Reece, Veldheer, defensive end Lamarr Houston, Ford and long-snapper Jon Condo.
Allen made it clear that he is interested in getting some of those guys tied up sooner rather than later, and certainly before free agency rolls around next spring.
“Well, obviously, I’m not going to get into any real negotiations,” Allen said, “but there are some players on this team that we would like to go ahead and shore up.”
— Allen said he hasn’t broken down how many reps players are going to get in the Raiders exhibition opener Friday night. However, it’s clear that presumptive starting quarterback Matt Flynn is going to get plenty of playing time, if not right away.
“Matt’s going to get some work in the preseason,” Allen said. “I don’t think there’s any question about that, so we want to make sure we get him enough work so that he’ll be ready to go when the regular season comes around.”
Flynn has started only two regular-season games in his five NFL seasons. Pryor has made one start in his two seasons. Tyler Wilson and Matt McGloin are rookies. Therefore, Allen is faced with four quarterbacks that need as many snaps as possible.