Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor, whose late arrival to the NFL via the supplemental draft following by a league-imposed five-game suspension, which coincidentally matched the five-game NCAA suspension he avoided by leaving school, became a forgotten man in 2011. And it nearly made him decide to forget about football.
“It was extremely hard considering the circumstances,” Pryor recently told SI.com. “I couldn’t be outside with the team, I couldn’t meet with the team, I couldn’t even get paid by the team during the suspension. It was hard. . . . When I was finally cleared, I didn’t want to bother the coaches because they were trying to get ready for games. It was kind of hard asking them for help, because I saw how stressed out they were during the season, which I totally understand. But it just killed me that I didn’t know the stuff that I was supposed to know. That was the worst part. I also couldn’t compete. That’s what really killed me.
“There was a point — and I know it seems crazy — but there was a point I was asking myself if I really loved this game anymore. That’s where I was at [emotionally]. Throughout the whole season I wasn’t playing, I wasn’t getting no love toward me. I just felt some type of way. I started questioning myself, even though I shouldn’t have. I was like, ‘Do I even love this game? Do I want to play this game? Is this what I want to do?’”
Pryor says he decided to stick around as a result of the “clean slate” he believes he has received with the arrival of G.M. Reggie McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen. Still, the new regime has added Matt Leinart, who has previous knowledge of the offensive system that former Texans quarterbacks coach Greg Knapp will install. Besides, there’s a real question as to whether McKenzie/Allen would have used a third-round (or seventh-round) pick in the supplemental draft (or the regular draft) to get him. Paul Gutierrez of CSN Bay Area expressed doubt regarding that point on Wednesday’s PFT Live.
Still, Pryor sees an opening, and he’s working hard to make an impression. “He certainly has been here and putting in some hours to make sure that he’s getting better,” Allen said. “The thing that I’ve been impressed with is, Terrelle is very, very eager to learn. That’s what you look for in a young guy like that. He’s hungry for it, and he’s working. It’s obvious he’s got great physical talents. I was out there and they were throwing, and just looking at him he’s really impressive. But like any young player he’s got to develop a full understanding of the game, because it’s more complex than it is in college. The thing that I talk to him about is, don’t worry about anything other than you just working to get better every single day, in the meeting rooms, on the field, everything you do. At the end of the day the results will take care of themselves.”
Though some think Pryor’s hard work eventually will result in the player being moved to a new position (like tight end), he’s still not listening.
“That talk doesn’t bother me, because every day I’m getting taught at the same rate as Carson Palmer at the quarterback position,” Pryor said. “People say that because I do have blazing speed. I do have to work a little bit on my accuracy, but who doesn’t have to work on something? If you didn’t have to work on something, you’d be the best there is or you’d be starting. But what if I didn’t have to work on that? I’d be the perfect quarterback. Well, I don’t know of anyone to be perfect but the Lord. And until I see someone perfect, I’m going to keep on working.”
The question is whether the work will ever result in someone whom the new G.M. and the new head coach will put on the field as a quarterback. Given the addition of Leinart, there’s no guarantee Pryor will even be the No. 2 man on the depth chart.