Raiders key matchup No. 1: Pryor vs. Turner

December 30, 2012, 8:45 am
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EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the final part in a series that spotlighted three Raiders-Chargers matchups to watch Sunday, 1:25 p.m. (CBS), at Qualcomm Stadium

Raiders QB Terrelle Pryor vs. Chargers coach Norv Turner

Tale of the tape
Pryor (6): 6-foot-4, 233 pounds, second season, Ohio State
Turner: sixth-year head coach of Chargers, 15th year as NFL head coach, Oregon

SAN DIEGO -- A guy who's been known to throw the occasional wounded duck against a guy considered to be a lame duck?

OK, simmer down, it's just a joke. But really, this season finale between two underachieving teams in the Raiders and Chargers can be boiled down to Terrelle Pryor getting his first NFL start under center and Norv Turner probably coaching his final game with San Diego.

Intriguing, no? Well..

But when it comes to Pryor, of course the Raiders are trying to win a game against a heated rival, but they are not relying on his arm so much as his feet and purported ability to make plays while seeing if Pryor does indeed have a future in the NFL as a quarterback.

"It’s not like I was a starter from Day 1 in practice and stuff right from the first step," Pryor said Friday. "It’s a baby step and this is a progression. I didn’t play. I made the team, getting active, getting plays here and there, three plays, four plays a game and then it comes to this. Will I respond? See Sunday.

"I’m confident. I’m sure my teammates have confidence in me as well. Like I said, you can’t put everything on my shoulders, can’t try to do everything. Just go out and let the players make plays and let myself make plays. When I’m not learning from (offensive coordinator Greg) Knapp on the sideline, I’ll go cheer the defense from that standpoint and go out there and cheer on the special teams guys. That’s all I can do."

And yes, technically, Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano has the responsibility of actually scheming for the unknown talent that is Pryor. But Turner acknowledges that both teams are different from the last time they met…in the Sept. 10 opener.

"It totally changes," Turner said. "(But) I don’t think in the last week of the season you’re going to make dramatic changes in terms of what you do. But when you start making changes there, it does limit you at some point."

So what does he expect from Pryor?

"I don't think you can change a lot, in terms of the things, the plays you're running and what you've been working on doing all through the season," Turner said. "But there are certain things that, obviously, that he's going to do -- they're going to get him on the move, they're going to run some bootleg-type things and you've got to account for a quarterback running when he ends up going back to pass and is in the pocket."

A week ago, Pryor was deemed by coach Dennis Allen not ready to be the backup after the loss at Carolina. Besides, Pryor had been downgraded for his performance in the home finale against Kansas City by flubbing a cadence and causing a false start.

Now? He's the starter, over Matt Leinart with Carson Palmer suffering those cracked ribs and bruised lung against the Panthers.

"We’re going to go into it with him the starter just like we would any other game," Allen said, "and the plan is for him to be the starter and we’ll see what the game dictates after that."

Pryor does not have the same command of the playbook as does Leinart, but no doubt a few wrinkles have been added to take advantage of his athleticism while minimizing his weaknesses. At least, that's the plan.

"You have to know your matchups, obviously, especially in the NFL," Pryor said. "It goes hand in hand, especially with the plays and the formations. I know where everyone is at. I know who is on who. I take advantage of the defense. I’m comfortable with that."

But will Turner be comfortable facing Pryor?