McGloin continues to defy expectations

Allen confident McGloin will play well if Pryor can't go

McGloin continues to defy expectations
November 14, 2013, 7:15 am
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The Raiders' play calling will change if Matt McGloin, a more typical pocket passer, starts against Houston in week 11. (AP)

Programming note: Watch Thursday’s Raiders press conference with Dennis Allen, Jason Tarver and Greg Olson streaming live right here at 1:10 p.m.

ALAMEDA – Matt McGloin played starting quarterback for the first time as a professional on Wednesday, in practice.

It’s conceivable that could continue through Sunday, on the road, against the Houston Texans. It could also be an ever-so-brief cameo.

Raiders starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor is day-to-day with a sprained knee that put McGloin into the No. 1 slot, for one day at least.

[RELATED: Terrelle Pryor fesses up about bad knee]

That he was in position to do so is a feat itself. The undrafted rookie from Penn State wasn’t supposed to make this team. Not on a squad with a veteran, an athletic backup and a fourth-round draft pick.

McGloin worked his way up the depth chart, past draftee Tyler Wilson, and has been the lone backup since Matt Flynn was cut Oct. 7. Veterans auditioned, but the Raiders chose to stick with McGloin.

[RELATED: Raiders priorities shift after Giants loss]

“It felt great. I obviously showed them enough to prove that I’m capable of playing at the level and being ready to play if called upon,” McGloin said after Wednesday’s practice. “That right there makes me want to work harder and prepare and be ready when and if called upon. It was great to see how they feel about me and it makes me work harder.”

McGloin broke four major passing records at Penn State, and built his reputation with moxie and leadership. That cool under fire kept him employed, and has given Raiders coaches the confidence to start him if necessary.

The ascent surprises many expect McGloin, who was given little chance of surpassing Wilson, let alone Flynn.

“I never really took a back seat to anybody,” McGloin said. “I controlled what I could control. I wasn’t worried about who was ahead of me or who was behind me. I’ve tried to improve each day as a quarterback and a leader. I have a much better grasp on what we’re doing as an offense. I’m trying to make a good impression and work well with these guys.”

He doesn’t have much time to work during a normal week. McGloin typically runs the second team, which helps prepare the starting defense for the coming game. Taking principal practice reps for any stretch is crucial in preparing for an opponent.

McGloin had little time to get ready for a Nov. 3 cameo against Philadelphia, when he orchestrated two fourth quarter drives in a blowout loss. He was 7-for-15 passing for 87 yards and led a touchdown drive after Pryor sprained his knee.

“Getting some experience was huge,” McGloin said. “Just getting a feel for what it was like – playing in the stadium was a great atmosphere – it was nice to get that out of the way.”

[RELATED: Raiders injury update: Pryor a spectator at practice]

While Pryor has struggled in recent weeks – a touchdown and eight interceptions over the past four games – McGloin is not in position to steal a starting spot. Only health will keep Pryor sidelined.

“We have our quarterback in Terrelle Pryor and we’re going to go with him and see if he can help us win some football games,” Allen said. “We’ll evaluate it as we continue to go on and if we feel like there’s a need to play Matt McGloin some, then we’ll play Matt McGloin.

“I like what I’ve seen in this kid. I think he’s done a good job for us. You watch him every day in practice, and he’s a good decision maker. He throws the ball accurately and gets the ball out on time, so we have confidence in him if we put him in the game that he’s going to go in and do well.”

Allen said McGloin has improved his decision-making, his accuracy and his grasp of the scheme. The play calling will change if McGloin, a more typical pocket passer, starts.

Pryor’s knee was given rest, but he could return as soon as Thursday. McGloin knows Wednesday could be a cameo. Sunday could also be his first NFL start. He’s ready for whatever happens, which is part of his job description.

“As a backup quarterback, you always have to be ready for that situation,” McGloin said. “In the previous weeks, I was always ready mentally. In terms of being ready physically, getting reps today really helps out.”

In line image of Matt McGloin provided by The Associated Press