What could have shaped up as a battle between two of the NFL’s most gifted athletes is instead a cautionary tale on the perils of being a quarterback that runs the ball.
Terrelle Pryor may not start for the Raiders Sunday against the Washington Redskins at O.co Coliseum after practicing in a limited fashion while recovering from a concussion.
Robert Griffin III will start for Washington, but it’s an open debate as to whether he’s the same guy who put together one of the best rookie seasons for a quarterback in NFL history.
Pryor was mostly a spectator during the media window. He didn’t put on a helmet until the closed session began, where coach Dennis Allen said Pryor got some snaps.
“I don’t want to speculate on where we’re at,’’ Allen said. “I’ve got to see when he gets cleared for contact and when he’s fully able to participate in practice.’’
With little more than a walk-through on Saturday, it would seem the chances of Pryor starting without getting in close to a full session Friday are slim.
There are no such doubts regarding Griffin, who won the NFL Rookie of the Year award completing 65.9 percent of his passes for 3,200 yards, 20 touchdowns and a passer rating of 102.4. He also rushed for 815 yards, a league record for a rookie quarterback.
Following reconstructive knee surgery, Griffin is throwing more and running less, although some of that has to do with the Redskins playing from behind in an 0-3 start.
Griffin looked a little more like his old self in a 27-20 loss to the Detroit Lions, running six times for 37 yards and completing 32 of 50 passes for 326 yards.
“He’s not fully healthy, obviously,’’ teammate and wide receiver Pierre Garcon told the Washington Post. “He’s running a little bit more, but last year’s RG III was a lot different than this year’s RG because of his knee. It’s not surprising.’’
Griffin is uninterested in discussing the state of his health or analyzing anything other than how to get better.
“Whether you’re a mobile quarterback or a quarterback that sits in the pocket, there are going to be games where things don’t go your way and there are going to be times when people criticize you,’’ Griffin told Bay Area reporters by conference call. “You just can’t look at that stuff.’’
Allen said the Redskins don’t look a lot different offensively than they did a year ago when they were an NFC wild card participant.
“I haven’t seen a ton of difference in what they’re doing offensively,’’ Allen said. “He’s still a very talented player.’’
Free safety Charles Woodson, on a conference call with Washington writers, said, “I don’t think there’s as much setting up the pass with that read option in the run game as there has been.’’
Griffin said the read option is still a part of the Washington offense and that the lack of running has more to do with how the defense is playing it.
“They’ve been playing it different ways, but it’s still available to us and the one thing, you have to be able to adjust on the fly,’’ Griffin said.
Griffin’s health and the amount of running he does are of paramount importance for the Redskins. He’s been urged to slide more often, and joked this week he would look up Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper for some pointers.
It’s the same dilemma the Raiders have with Pryor _ wanting their best athlete to use all his skills while at the same time playing it safe when necessary to stay on the field.
The conflict is evident when Griffin was asked about avoiding big hits and during the course of his answer said “You have to go out and play with no fear’’ and later said “the highlight reel hits that can happen when you try to escape the pocket, I try to limit those.’’
Both Allen and defensive coordinator Jason Tarver believe playing against Pryor throughout training camp will help the Raiders deal with Griffin.
“They have similar ability in terms of getting outside the pocket to extend plays and throw on the run,’’ linebacker Nick Roach said. “It’s definitely to our advantage in training camp we were able to see that.’’
— The Raiders announced Sunday’s game is a sellout and will be televised locally.
— Defensive end Jason Hunter (quadriceps) did not practice. Linebacker Sio Moore (concussion) and cornerback Tracy Porter (concussion) were limited but were “a step ahead’’ of Pryor in their recovery.