ALAMEDA – The blossoming career of undrafted free agent Matt McGloin kicked into high gear Wednesday at about the time the Raiders announced that first-round draft pick D.J. Hayden’s rookie season ended.
Hayden, the prized pick of Oakland’s draft class, was placed on season-ending injured reserve as a result of a groin injury he suffered two weeks ago. He underwent surgery for a sports hernia Tuesday, coach Dennis Allen said.
Meanwhile, Allen tabbed McGloin as the Raiders starting quarterback for Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans, in large part because of how well McGloin played in his first NFL start last Sunday.
“Matt McGloin earned the right to get another opportunity to start,” Allen said.
McGloin completed 18 of 32 passes for 197 yards and three touchdowns against the Houston Texans last Sunday in one of the more impressive starting debuts in NFL history.
He played only because of a sprained right knee that has hobbled Pryor since Nov. 3.
Allen and Pryor said that Pryor’s knee remains an issue. It’s conceivable that Pryor will be the primary backup Sunday, as long as his knee gets stronger.
“I play a certain way and I just got to be a little bit more healthy to do that,” Pryor said of his heavy reliance upon running and moving around in the pocket.
Pryor practiced Wednesday, but he was limited because of his injury. He said he is receiving extra treatment at home but there’s still discomfort.
Allen made the decision to go with McGloin after meeting with Pryor. Everyone seems onboard with Allen’s decision.
“You get hurt, other guys play well, why not continue with it?” Pryor said. “I don’t blame coach. I’m a team player. I’ll be doing the looks for the corners, writing up a report for McGloin and helping the best that I can. I’m hoping that he has a lot of success.”
McGloin doesn’t lack for confidence, which is part of what endears him to Allen and McGloin’s teammates.
He said he isn’t sure what to expect long term but, for now, he feels as if he’s the right person for the job.
“It’s a performance-based business and, at the end of the day, you have to perform to play,” McGloin said. “We did play well last week. Coach is doing the right thing sticking with what we had and seeing what happens.”
Pryor understands the business side of the NFL. After all, he earned the starting job in training camp by outperforming Matt Flynn, Tyler Wilson and McGloin.
He said his focus now is on getting healthy, finding ways to get better and helping McGloin succeed.
Pryor started eight of Oakland’s first nine games, with Flynn replacing Pryor for one game after Pryor suffered a concussion.
Flynn since has been released and McGloin has burst on to the scene as an intriguing prospect at an unsettled position. That coincided with a precipitous drop in production by Pryor.
In Pryor’s first four games, he completed 68.3 percent of his passes for 845 yards and four touchdowns, with two interceptions and 11 sacks.
However, he completed only 50.8 percent of his passes for 714 yards in the past four games, with one touchdown, eight interceptions and 18 sacks.
McGloin has made the most of his chances at every stop during his football career. He knows full well that the pressure is on to show that his play against the Texans wasn’t an aberration.
“As long as I play well, I would hope I get more and more opportunities to start,” McGloin said. “But the main thing being there is playing well. We know what it takes. Last week, obviously we did a great job. Hopefully we can continue that.”
Wide receiver Rod Streater said he and his teammates are all-in with McGloin.
“We have a lot of confidence in him,” Streater said. “He came out very poised, made a lot of plays for us and helped us win the game. … We just got to go with the changes.”
— Running back Darren McFadden (hamstring), receiver Denarius Moore (shoulder) and defensive end Jason Hunter (foot) did not practice Wednesday.
Receiver Andre Holmes (shoulder), guard Mike Brisiel (knee) and defensive tackle Daniel Muir (knee) practiced two days after they underwent MRI exams for their injuries.
Allen said McFadden had a productive workout with a team trainer on the side Wednesday and that McFadden is “getting closer” to returning to practice. McFadden missed most of the past three games.
— The Raiders activated linebacker Miles Burris from the physically unable to perform list and placed him on their 53-man roster.
Burris started 15 games for the Raiders as a rookie last season. He missed all of the Raiders offseason workouts, training camp and the first 10 games this season while recovering from knee surgery.
Burris returned to practice with his teammates three weeks ago. The Raiders were obligated to make a move Wednesday. Allen said there’s a “chance” that Burris will play against the Titans.
— Allen said that he is targeting the Raiders game against the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving for the 2013 debut of left offensive tackle Jared Veldheer, who has spent the past 3 ½ months rehabilitating from triceps surgery.
— The Raiders also re-signed defensive end Brian Sanford to their 53 man roster. He was waived by the Raiders each of the past three weeks, only to be re-signed.
— Defensive tackle Ricky Lumpkin was signed by the Raiders and placed on their practice squad. He played in one game for the Arizona Cardinals last season.