Pryor excels, but there is no QB controversy

August 26, 2012, 5:04 am
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OAKLAND -- The knee-jerk reaction will be to proclaim Terrelle Pryor as the Truth. The multi-faceted threat under center. The guy who should, gulp, start at quarterback for the Raiders in their season opener.

And if all you saw was a stat sheet after the Raiders' 31-20 defeat of Detroit in both team's third exhibition game on Saturday, it might be understandable. Except

There is no quarterback controversy in Silver and Blackdom. None. Not even after Pryor excelled and excited -- finally -- and starter Carson Palmer had another somewhat uneven day that looked uglier on said stat sheet.

Consider: Palmer was 17-of-26 passing for 181 yards and two interceptions for a 53.5 passer rating while Pryor was three-of-five for 137 yards and two TDs's and a 143.8 rating. Pryor also ran the ball five times for 90 yards, while Palmer was stopped for no gain inside the 5-yard line and was sacked once.

Now, I'm not saying Pryor's stats were fool's gold. Far from it. What he accomplished was indeed impressive, and his 59-yard run down the right side in the third quarter was breathtaking. But you must keep in mind what Pryor did, he did against backups and guys who will not be on NFL rosters in another week, while Palmer was running against one of the most fearsome front lines in the league, and moving the ball well. Even without two of his top receiving targets in Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford and the projected starting center in Stefen Wisniewski.

If nothing else, this should convince the Raiders' coaching staff it needs to incorporate a specific package for Pryor, to utilize his special talents in certain situations. Maybe even when the Raiders' offense stalls inside the red zone, as it has under Palmer.

"He's still a work in progress," Raiders coach Dennis Allen said of Pryor. "But I thought he made some strides today. He's not where we need him to be. He's not where he wants to be. But he made some progress."

And with a talent as raw as Pryor is, that's all you can really ask for in the preseason. Especially since backup quarterback Matt Leinart sat this one out with his injured right index finger.

"I felt real comfortable because when I was with the (third-team offense), I would get like 10 plays in practice," Pryor said. "That's not really enough for me that I can really get the feel for it. They say that you win games in practice, and I wasn't winning in practice with 10 plays. It's impossible.

"I'm not really getting the feel for the exact plays that I'm going to be running, whereas this week (practicing with the second-team offense) I did. It was good to get a few extra reps behind Carson. It was great."

Even if his first touchdown pass, the 39-yard toss to Juron Criner, was not. The ball was slightly underthrown but on target and Criner showed off his leaping and ability to adjust in the air to haul in the pass.

Pryor's second TD was a 76-yard catch and run by Criner, who shook off the defensive back trying to tackle him.

But hey, playmakers make plays, right? Palmer's two picks came on a misguided middle screen attempt to Taiwan Jones and on a pass to Eddie McGee that bounded off his hands.

Pryor was also intercepted, on an ill-advised pass into blanket coverage. Though it was nullified by penalty.

"I hate losing so much," Pryor said, "people won't play video games against me because I will throw the controller and break it, and then I have to buy another one. I'm fiery. Losing drives me crazy. I won't shake the other team's hand if they win. I don't want to look at them. I just hate failing."

Got it? Remember, this is the same guy who said he played like "dog crap" against Dallas in the exhibition opener. Beyond that, it's been a rough month for Pryor. His mentor, his father and even his dog -- "my best friend," he said -- have all died since just before training camp opened.

So yeah, Pryor feeling at home at having major success on a football field was a big accomplishment for him.

Just don't get it twisted. Take it for what it's worth and put it in your back pocket.

"I'm just so happy for him," Palmer said. "He works so hard and puts so much time in. To have the big plays that he made with his feet and the big throws that he made and the guys step up for him like Juron did, guys have so much confidence in him and I'm just happy for him. Proud of him."

As he should be. Just, don't get carried away. Yet.