ALAMEDA -- There's a reason Terrelle Pryor has yet to suit up for a game this season, right?After all, the Raiders third-string quarterback has only been active for one regular season game in his two-year career -- and he false started on his lone play -- and yet, the most intriguing player on the Oakland roster moves the needle like no other. Especially when coach Dennis Allen admitted this week there have been discussions about activating Pryor. Perhaps even for this weekend's game against Cleveland.Except, Pryor has not been told anything of the sort. He has just continued to work on his development, he said."The biggest thing is I know all the plays and the formations and the plays for the week going in for whoever were playing," Pryor said Wednesday. "I try and stay in it as much as I can to help the guys. But on a personal level, its kind of, coach calls it false enthusiasm. As a quarterback, you have to do that."I dont play, and I dont get any time and I dont get any reps in practice, so I have to have false enthusiasm to get the guys going and whenever guys are slacking a little bit and kind of tired, just kind of pick them up. Its tough, but thats the calling for me right now. Ive got to deal with it."The Raiders used a third-round supplemental draft pick on him in August of 2011 -- Al Davis' final draft pick -- after his star-crossed career at Ohio State ended in scandal. With his unique brand of athleticism, but far-from-prototypical-NFL-QB skill set, Pryor has been the ultimate project."Terrelles growingand theres a potential that he might be up in the (Browns) game as the third quarterback, and well just leave it at that," Allen said. "Well see what goes from there."Somewhere down the line we need to see what he can do. Now when that time is, I dont know the exact answer for that yet. But there will be a time where weve got to look at him and see what he can do."Pryor played in all four exhibitions this summer, mostly against fellow third-stringers, and threw for 251 yards on 19 of 32 passing with two touchdowns and an interception. He also was sacked five times but rushed for 121 yards on 14 carries with a score."I wasnt terrible then," he said. "It was just hit and miss, you know? Sometimes I would hit like five in a row then Id miss two. I didnt like that. It also comes with reps. If you dont get a lot of reps you cant prove to yourself you can do it on a consistent basis. One day Im looking forward to that, proving to myself that I can do it."Keep in mind that technically, Pryor is third on the Raiders QB depth chart, behind starter Carson Palmer and backup Matt Leinart. So you could not blame Leinart if he was a bit bemused at the media attention Pryor was receiving Wednesday.But no one has questioned Pryor's work ethic."Theres been zero dropoff," Palmer said. "You know, hes in a tough spot being the third stringer where you dont get a chance to dress out, but (he) studies his butt off, continues to work, gets as many reps as he can in practice, is completely in it."Said Pryor: "He has a lot on his shoulders, especially right now. Hes trying to lead our organization. Were trying to get back on top. Were trying to win some ballgames. My hats off to Carson. He helps an awful lot and Im going to keep sticking beside him and learn from him."At 3-8, the Raiders are essentially playing for pride while playing out the string and planning for the future. Yes, the line is a fine one indeed. At least, straighter than many a pass thrown by Pryor as a pro."Ive been doing a lot of footwork," Pryor said. "Its amazing, the accuracy that I have now. Im able to step into my throws and throw exactly where I want the ball at, and I just keep getting better at that. As a quarterback, you never get to that level where you stop working. Theres always room for improvement and thats all Im looking for."Ive said it before, as long as Im getting better one percent and Im truthful with myself, I can look myself in the mirror, and especially when its time to go one day, I can look myself in the mirror and say that I did everything I can to be ready, and I can live with that.Im going to get better."So should the Raiders give Pryor a look in the final five games or stay the course with Palmer?
It looks as though Marques Tuiasosopo is heading back to the Pac-12, again. The former Rose Bowl MVP and Washington quarterback has reportedly been added to the coaching staff at Cal under new head coach Justin Wilcox.
The news was first reported by Bruin Sports Online and later followed up by Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports, via Twitter.
Tuiasosopo is no stranger to coaching in the Pac-12. After spending 12 seasons in the NFL, Tuiasosopo returned to his alma mater to take on a role as assistant strength coach for the Washington Huskies in 2009.
After two years in that role, he joined the UCLA coaching staff as a graduate assistant in 2011 and took on a role as tight ends coach in 2012 under Jim Mora. The following year, in 2013, Tuiasosopo returned to Washington to be the quarterback coach to work for Steve Sarkisian.
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Raiders general manager built a foundation of talent heading into the 2016 offseason, but needed more to get his team over the hump. Draft picks were essential, and expected. He had significant salary cap space, where he could find some immediate impact players on the open market.
McKenzie signed six unrestricted free agents, a few of them at a hefty price. Most veteran imports worked out well, though some thrived more than others.
It was a solid group that, in addition to the 2017 draft class and some key undrafted pickups, helped McKenzie win the Pro Football Writers of America’s executive of the year award.
He singled out two members of the 2016 free-agent class that helped set the tone for a 12-4 regular season and the team’s first playoff berth since 2002.
Left guard Kelechi Osemele was the first. The former Baltimore Raven signed a record contract for interior linemen but was worth the price, adding attitude to the offensive line during an All-Pro season.
“I think Kelechi solidified our offensive line, from the standpoint of what we wanted from our run game, from a physicality standpoint, what we had always talked about from Day 1,” McKenzie said Thursday in a conference call. “He added to that and he put some teeth into the whole offensive mentality. I felt like that was an impact. I was happy to see him get his first Pro Bowl. That was good to see.”
McKenzie also highlighted free safety Reggie Nelson’s efforts. He signed late in the offseason for relatively cheap, but was voted a team captain after his first preseason as a Raider and helped the secondary function with confidence. That was required after losing the eminent Charles Woodson to retirement.
Nelson also had five interceptions and two fumble recoveries, including three takeaways that secured victory.
I thought Reggie [Nelson] made some plays and was a true leader back there. When we lost Charles Woodson, from the leadership standpoint, communication standpoint, I felt Reggie came in and did a solid job to help ease that transition. You can never replace a Charles Woodson, but he was able to help ease that transition, especially when we had a young rookie back there (in Karl Joseph).”
Let’s take a look at the Raiders unrestricted free agent class and how they fared:
LG Kelechi Osemele
Contract: 5 years, $58.5 million ($25.4 million guaranteed)
Impact:Osemele ranks among the league’s elite left guards, and brought a nastiness to the Raiders offensive line. He helped immensely in the run game, and didn’t allow a quarterback sack all season. He was a Pro Bowler and a first-team All Pro, the results McKenzie hoped for after offering Osemele a massive contract.
LB Bruce Irvin
Contract: 4 years, $37 million ($14.5 million guaranteed)
Impact: Irvin started slow but rounded into a dominant player and an excellent compliment to star edge rusher Khalil Mack. Irvin had seven sacks and an NFL-high six forced fumbles, showing enough versatility to play well in coverage and against the run.
CB Sean Smith
Contract: 4 years, $38 million ($15 million guaranteed)
Impact: Smith was benched in his first game, and struggled against Julio Jones in his second, but played better after than and largely well the rest of the year. His quarterback rating against was 114.0 and he allowed too many big plays. More is expected from a No. 1 cornerback. Smith had shoulder surgery after the season and vowed to be better in 2017.
FS Reggie Nelson
Contract: 2 years, $8.5 million ($4 million guaranteed)
Impact:Nelson wasn’t perfect in his first year as a Raider, but made some big plays during a Pro Bowl year. He had seven takeaways, including five interceptions, and some big hits in the clutch. He was a solid leader in the back who should be better with a year’s experience in a new system to his credit.
S Bryden Trawick
Contract: 1 year, $675,000
Impact: Trawick was brought in to be a solid special teams player, and he thrived in that role. He was strong in kick and punt coverage, with a team-high 14 special teams tackles. He showed some defensive prowess late when forced into action, and the safety made some nice plays over the last two games.
LB Daren Bates
Contract: 1 year, $850,000
Impact: Bates is a special teams player first and, along with Trawick, helped anchor the coverage units. He had seven special teams tackles over the year.