It wasn’t so long ago when people wondered whether the Raiders would create a package of plays that would take advantage of Terrelle Pryor’s superior running ability. Then came Pryor’s meteoric transformation from a project into a legitimate NFL starter.
Sure, Pryor has started only seven games during his two-plus NFL seasons — six of those came this season — but that’s enough of a sample size for people to get the point that Pryor is more than a runner.
“We’re a little past that,” Pryor said, when asked whether he is eager to prove that he is more than a running quarterback. “You can go watch against the Broncos and a couple of other teams. I threw the ball very well. I’m not really into trying to prove anything to anybody.”
Pryor said all he cares about is winning games. If it means running 93 yards on a quarterback keeper or throwing a well-placed pass to Rod Streater, as he did on the first play of the game against the Chargers, Pryor’s focus is upon winning games these days.
And he certainly isn’t in the mood to hear any criticism about how the Raiders passing game has languished among the least productive in the league all season on the heels of a win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“It’s all about getting a win,” Pryor said. “At the end of the day, we got a win. You’re not going to question me for winning the game. Now if we lost and had that bad game, yeah, but winning … ”
Pryor paused, smiled, leaned into the microphone and ended his news conference by saying, “Just win baby.”
Eagles coach Chip Kelly apparently doesn’t need any convincing about Pryor being a well-rounded quarterback.
“They’re doing a lot more things with him as a passer,” Kelly said. “He seems like he wants to stay in the pocket and throw the ball. He’s that package that you worry about as a defensive group because he can throw it, but he can also tuck it down and make some really good plays. He’s obviously a very big threat, and we need to make sure we contain him.”
Just don’t fence him in and call him a running quarterback, coach.
— Linebacker Miles Burris practiced today for the first time since last season ended. Soon thereafter, he said he feels confident that he’s going to be activated to the 53-man roster at some point within the next three weeks.
That’s the time frame the Raiders have to decide whether Burris is healthy enough to warrant a spot on the 53-man roster. If not, their other choices are to place Burris on season-ending injured reserve or release Burris.
As far as Burris is concerned, there isn’t any question how this is going to turn out.
“I feel very confident,” Burris said. “Whenever I’m out there, I’m confident. As a football player, you kind of have to.”
Burris said he just wants to help the Raiders however he can, even if that means special teams.
— Left offensive tackle Jared Veldheer met with a doctor in Los Angeles on Monday. On Wednesday, he said everything is going well and that he’s “on track” for a return soon.
Allen said on track means “soon” and that the initial prognosis called for Veldheer to miss three months with the torn triceps.
Veldheer suffered the injury one week into training camp and underwent surgery Aug. 14. Therefore, he’s coming up on three months for both dates.
Still, Allen said, it’s going to take a little more time for Veldheer to get back into the swing of taking on blockers, getting into football shape and getting ready to play in a game for the first time since last season.
— Menelik Watson fared pretty well at practice today, Allen said. He is going to get reps at left and right tackle, given he might be needed to either spot.
Watson worked at left tackle with the second-team offense at practice today.
“Both those guys looked fairly decent out there at practice,” Allen said of Watson and Burris. “We’ll continue to evaluate them as the week goes on. That was good to see to have those guys back out there. Those guys can help us.”
The interesting part comes when Veldheer and Watson are healthy enough to play.
We know that Veldheer pushes Khalif Barnes out of the left tackle spot. From there, it’s anyone’s guess.
Barnes has fared well at left tackle, and he’s the incumbent right tackle. Still, Tony Pashos has played well at right tackle after being signed out of desperation near the end of training camp.
It’s likely that Barnes will go back to right tackle, with Pashos and Watson serving as backups, at least in the short term.
Another scenario involves Pashos or Watson playing right tackle and Barnes converting to guard.
Allen said Wednesday that the injuries to Pashos and Andre Gurode appear to be short-term ones as of now, though he isn’t quite sure when either might return.
— Eagles coach Chip Kelly recruited Pryor to play for Oregon University when Pryor was one of the most sought after high school players.
Ultimately, Pryor accepted a scholarship to Ohio State, where he guided the Buckeyes to a victory over Kelly’s Oregon team in the Rose Bowl.
Pryor completed 20 of 37 passes for 266 yards and two touchdowns that game, and he rushed 20 times for 72 yards.
He was tempted to take his talents to Eugene — OK, so it’s not quite South Beach — but, in the end, he decided to play close to home so that his mother could attend his games.
“I loved his personality,” Pryor said of Kelly. “I loved the fire he brought to the game. He came to my high school and spent a lot of time at my high school, showing me uniforms and showing me the playbook, some of the stuff that he likes, that he runs. It was very interesting and intriguing.”
— Wide receiver Andre Holmes was on the field for more snaps than Jacoby Ford and Brice Butler against the Steelers. That’s not an anomaly. It’s by design.
“Obviously we want to try to continue to get him involved. Right now, I feel good about the wide receiver position. I want to see a little bit more consistency, but that’s not too much different than the rest of the football team.
“He’s a big-bodied guy. He had a really good preseason. He obviously missed a lot of time with the suspension so he’s still getting back into the groove of the offense a little bit, but he’s a guy that can help us.”
It also helps Holmes from the standpoint that when Ford and Butler did play they stood out more for what they didn’t do than for making positive plays.
Ford fumbled at the end of a short reception, not to mention fumbling a punt and coming close to muffing another punt. Butler clanked one pass right on the money and had another hit off his hands and wind up in the arms of a Steelers defender.