By Steve Corkran
Wednesday, September 11th, 2013 at 3:15 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Coach Dennis Allen added kicker Sebastian Janikowski’s name to the list of those players held out of practice Wednesday.
Unlike the other players, however, Janikowski is all but a sure thing to play Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“I don’t think it’s a major factor or anything,” Allen said. “Again, we have a long season and we don’t want this to be something that’s going to be a lingering injury. We’re going to be smart with him. We’ll limit the amount of times he’s kicking, but he’ll be fine.”
Tight end David Ausberry, offensive tackle Menelik Watson and strong safety Tyvon Branch also missed practice today.
– Linebacker Sio Moore returned to practice Wednesday, and he appears better suited to play in a game now than he did last week.
Moore played only eight defensive snaps against the Colts last week because of a sore toe. Allen said he anticipates Moore being ready for a heightened role against the Jaguars.
With that being said, Allen said, Kaluka Maiava is someone the Raiders can benefit from having on the field often, as he was against the Colts.
“We definitely like Kaluka,” Allen said. “He’s a good football player, and we got to find ways to get him on the field and let him play.”
– Colts defensive end Robert Mathis joked about running more than five miles while chasing after Pryor on Sunday. There were times when Mathis and other Colts defenders either gasped or retired to the sideline for a breather.
Meanwhile, Pryor and the rest of the Raiders went about their business, content knowing they had an edge over their weary counterparts.
It’s all part of the adjustments taking place with the Raiders, as they adjust to life with Pryor as their quarterback.
Wide receiver Denarius Moore summed it up this way:
“It’s going to be easier for you to get open because the (defensive backs) normally are going to be confused if they should come up and make a play on Terrelle or if they should go at you,” Moore said.
“With that being said, it makes sense that when your number is called, a normal play takes three to five seconds but with Terrelle can last up to 10 seconds.”
Pryor said even though he and others are fatigued, too, they’re still of the belief that they have an edge.
“It was kind of easy on (the offensive linemen) because the defensive line of Indianapolis was tired, and it helped them out and they didn’t have to move as much,” Pryor said. “I was pretty much eluding guys and doing my thing. But they were pretty sharp. Some guys were huffing and puffing, but that’s football.”
To that end, Pryor said offensive linemen and others are spending more time on the treadmill and boosting their cardio in light of what lies ahead over the course of a long season.
Center Stefen Wisniewski said he and his linemates held up fine against the Colts. Even so,
“It’s definitely a whole different mind-set as far as protection goes,” Wisniewski said. “It’s something that we’re going to have to practice. You don’t just turn a switch and go from blocking for 4 seconds to blocking for 8 seconds.
“It’s something that you kind of have to work at. The more that we work with him, we’ll kind of start getting used to that and getting used to the fact that, we’re going to look back, he’s rolling out and we got to go find some work.”
– Pryor keeping alive plays and running often isn’t without its flaws. Several times against the Colts, Pryor found himself light on time as the play clock ticked down.
“It’s a factor of a lot of things, especially when you got a guy that’s running down the field and then when the ball is out of bounds the play clock starts,” Allen said. “We’ve made an emphasis on, get to the huddle, let’s get the play called, let’s get in and out of the huddle faster so we got more time to see them when we get to the line of scrimmage.”
Pryor said that’s one of the many things that he is working on in an attempt to become a more well-rounded player.
“You just get winded,” Pryor said, “and I’ve just got to keep on getting better at that. Maybe I’m not good at being in condition. Maybe I’ve got to condition more or something like that.
“But I don’t think that’s the issue. I just think it’s just I’m so psyched up, it’s just in the game and it’s in the moment, and I’m just huffing and puffing and trying to get the play call out. But I’ve got to figure out a way to get better at that and we’ll be a lot better this week, I can promise that.”
– Then there’s the matter of Pryor knowing when to take a hit or when to give up on a play.
Allen said that remains a work in progress, but it’s something that Pryor needs to grasp so that he has a better chance of holding up through an entire season.
That fact isn’t lost on Pryor, either.
“I’m 6-foot-5, 238 (pounds), I feel like I take that stuff on,” Pryor said. “But you have to play smart because you want to last and you want to give the team the best chance to win.”
Therefore, Pryor said, he’s going to be more conscious of picking his spots as to when to sacrifice his body in exchange for a chance at picking up a first down or a touchdown.
“When we’ve got to keep the chains moving when it’s most important, I believe I’ll probably do whatever I have to do to go get the first. But after that, I can’t sit here and lie to you because I’m so competitive I might forget. I need to get down, absolutely. I have to. I got guys counting on me and I need to get down.”
Allen, naturally, is worried about his starting quarterback taking one too many hits, as was the case with the Redskins Robert Griffin III last season.
Griffin III ended up with a serious knee injury that required surgery, and he only now is back on the field, though he is wearing a brace and doesn’t look like the same dynamic player he was last season.
“The thing you have to understand is when’s it time to declare the play over,” Allen said. “You don’t want to take any of his athleticism away from him because he has the ability to make some big plays.
“What you want to do is limit the amount of times he takes the hit. So he’s got to do a good job of seeing that he can get what he can get and not take the hit at the end of the play.”
– Now that Pryor is the unquestioned starter, he no longer needs to wonder whether his teammates are following his lead.
That wasn’t always the case, he said. In fact, as recently as two weeks ago, Pryor felt unsure how much clout he had with his teammates.
“When it was me and Matt going at it, it’s kind of tricky to be a leader and lead guys,” Pryor said, “because who are they looking at? Me? Matt? Who are they looking at to lead them? Now that that’s decided, I’m just going to go out and be myself.”
As Pryor’s teammates are finding out more and more, being himself mean few, if any, days off.
“It’s been successful, getting the guys in, and I believe that’s why we had some success against Indianapolis,” Pryor said, “because we had guys like Darren McFadden, Marcel Reece, that wanted to get better, and they’re in a meeting room on an off day on Tuesday at 8 in the morning.
“That shows that you want to be successful and that’s just a burning desire to be successful. I believe that if we just keep on getting more guys to do that, we’re going to be better.”
– Allen had this to say to Raiders fans that haven’t purchased tickets for Sunday’s regular-season home-opener against the Jaguars:
“Get your tickets. Come on out. It will be fun. We’re going to go out, we’re going to compete, battle hard and we’re going to play good football.”