By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Sunday, August 25th, 2013 at 4:50 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Filed for print but expanded with additional quoted material . . .
Terrelle Pryor will get his chance to show what he can do with the first team offense Thursday night when he starts at quarterback for the Raiders against Seattle in the preseason finale.
Meanwhile, Matt Flynn will rest his sore right arm, left to wonder if his own opportunity to be a starting quarterback has slipped away for the second consecutive season.
Coach Dennis Allen said Flynn’s arm trouble is the same as last season, when elbow tendonitis sidelined him for a portion of the preseason, with rookie Russell Wilson seizing the job as the Seahawks starter in his absence.
Throughout most of training camp Flynn would leave the field house in Napa each day with a bag of ice wrapped around his right elbow.
“It’s something that’s been a little bothersome to him,’’ Allen said. “I don’t really anticipate it being a big issue, but I want to get his arm rested up, recovered. We’ll get a chance to see Terrelle this week with the first-unit offense against Seattle, and we’ll see how he does.’’
Flynn completed 3 of 6 passes for 19 yards and two interceptions in a 36-24 loss to the Chicago Bears and was booed heavily by the home fans. Pryor came in with a 24-0 deficit and rallied the Raiders within 27-20 in the third quarter with a 25-yard touchdown run and a 19-yard touchdown pass to Nick Kasa.
“Coach told me what the deal was, that Matt was not playing and he wanted me to jump in with the first team and lead them into Seattle,’’ Pryor said. “I’m going to study like I usually do.’’
After completing 7 of 9 passes for 93 yards and rushing for 37 more against Chicago, Pryor said he was “horrible’’ on his run fakes and found other areas that needed improvement.
“I’m definitely not all the way there in terms of the playbook, in terms of just being a quarterback out there,’’ Pryor said. “I’m still learning. Don’t get me wrong, I can lead if called upon, but I’m juts out there getting better and getting in synch with the guys right now.’’
Although appreciative of the fan support, Pryor thought the booing of Flynn was unnecessary.
“We’re all on the Raiders, and everybody is for each other, and I believe you have to be with each other through thick and thin,’’ Pryor said. “When problems happen, you can’t boo a guy. We’ve got to be better than that, and Raider Nation will be better than that, I believe.’’
Asked if Pryor could do enough in this game to cement the job as the starter, Allen said, “We’ll see. We’ll see.”
Allen said there has been plenty of time to evaluate both quarterbacks.
“When you look at OTAs, when you look at minicamps, when you look at what we’ve been through in training camp, the three preseason games we’ve played, I don’t think that’s necessarily going to make that decision anymore difficult,” Allen said. “There’s been some competition. I think both of them at times have done some really good things. Both of them have done some things that need improving. That’s really where we’re at with the quarterback position.”
– While Pryor will be in the spotlight against Seattle, the most surprising story Sunday was Allen deciding to start second-round draft pick Menelik Watson at left tackle.
He will do so with exactly four days of practice time at the NFL’s most hostile road venue. Watson came out of the draft with precious little college experience, having played 19 games at Saddleback Community College and Florida State. All 19 of those starts were on the right side.
“Seattle is very talented up front,’’ Allen said. “They’ve got a lot of speed that comes off the edges. It’s a great opportunity for us to get a good evaluation to see where he’s at.’’
Watson replaces Alex Barron, who started two preseason games after left tackle Jared Veldheer had surgery to repair a torn left triceps, an injury that will keep him out well into the regular season.
Allen’s assessment of Barron: “Alex started out strong in camp. I think there was a little bit of a lull. I think he played a lot better in the (Chicago) game, and he’ll get another opportunity to go out there against Seattle and compete and give us another evaluation on him.”
Out with a calf injury until practicing in a team session for the first time last Thursday, Watson went to line coach Tony Sparano to tell him he was ready for anything.
“I’m the type of person, if you tell me to do something I’m just going to do it,’’ Watson said. “Jared went down, so I knew there would be some shifts . . . they trust me to play the left tackle position, so it’s a privilege and I’ve got to take it seriously and make sure I’m ready to play.’’
Watson’s initial thoughts on the challenge of playing on the left side: “It’s very technical, and things happen a lot quicker on the left, too. Obviously, it’s the blind side, so you have to be double about your wits. I’ve got to get in there now and watch the film, study hard tonight when I get home.”
– Rookie cornerback D.J. Hayden on his first football game since last November at the University of Houston: “I did all right. I did all right. I’ve got a lot of work to do. I’ve got a long way to go. But I just want to go out there and get better each and every game . . . after I got calmed down and had a couple of plays come my way, I just started playing.”
Initially concerned that he would look “chubby” with a protective flap covering his chest area, a result last November’s heart surgery, Hayden said, “I didn’t look as fat as I thought. They taped me down.”
– Return specialist Josh Cribbs was one of 10 players trimmed from the roster, unable to return to form following knee surgery.
“It was one of those things where I didn’t see everything that I needed to see,” Allen said. “Josh Cribbs has been a great player in the NFL for a long time. We just felt like it was the right thing to do, if we didn’t see him in our plans, to go ahead and let him go.”
Players who were waived by the Raiders were linebacker Keenan Clayton, linebacker Eric Harper, fullback Jon Hoese, wide receiver Sam McGuffie, guard Andrew Robiskie, cornerback Cory Nelms, wide receiver Tray Session, defensive tackle Myles Wade and wide receiver Isiah Williams.
Guard/center Alex Parsons thanked the Raider organization in a Tweet for the chance to play the sport he loves, an indication he will be off the roster Monday, possibly working out an injury settlement.
That would leave four more players to cut before Tuesday.
Wide receiver Juron Criner and cornerback Tracy Porter returned to practice.
Still no sign of linebacker Miles Burris, who hasn’t recovered from off-season knee surgery, or linebacker Kaluka Maiava, who had an ankle injury at the beginning of training camp.
“Obviously we want to get those guys back as soon as possible but we can’t put them out there until they’re ready to go,” Allen said.
Allen said there is no timetable on how long fifth-round pick Latavius Murray would be out following arthroscopic ankle surgery.