Pryor biding his time under center


Pryor biding his time under center

ALAMEDA -- Dennis Allen said the first-team reps at quarterback in practice Wednesday were "evenly split" between Matt Leinart and Terrelle Pryor.

Pryor said, "Matt started with the first team for a good bit and I was getting like the last two or three snaps. Not much, but more than I was."

Wait, what?

Welcome to the cloak and dagger world of NFL prep week…even if it is the final week of a lost regular season, for both the Raiders and San Diego.

Because while starter Carson Palmer has already been ruled out of the finale with cracked ribs and a bruised lung, Allen said he will not announce a starter until later in the week. In fact, Allen essentially said Leinart and Pryor were auditioning this week not only to start against the Chargers, but also to be Palmer's backup next season. Even if, after Oakland's 17-6 loss in Carolina last weekend, Allen said Pryor was not ready to be No. 2 on the depth chart.

So what switched?

"I think when you get done with the game, your mindset is one (way), and then when we get a chance to come back and sit down and evaluate where we're at, I think, obviously, we got a chance to see what Matt could do and we might need to see a little bit more of Terrelle," Allen said. "But we'll evaluate that as the week goes on."

So there, even as Allen acknowledged the possibility of using both players in San Diego.

"They're two totally different quarterbacks," Allen said. "Terrelle, obviously, is an athletic quarterback that can really do some things on the move. Matt's a little bit more your prototypical pocket passer. And so, I think when you look at those guys, you've got to take into (account) those skill sets and what they do well."

Pryor, meanwhile, the last player ever drafted by Al Davis, re-assumed the role of dutiful good soldier after seemingly sulking a tad in Carolina.

"Today I thought I did a fairly decent job," Pryor said. "I commend coach Allen and coach (Greg) Knapp, two great coaches, and they knew I wasn’t ready. Still may not be. I’m just trying to work hard at what coach Flip (John DeFilippo) is trying to get in terms of footwork and stuff like that. I’m just trying to do my best to stamp it in. I feel like I’m close.

"I’ll be a great player in this league, without a doubt. I believe it 100 percent, but I just have to keep working and having the faith that I can throw the ball, knowing that I can make plays. As long as I know it, and when I’m with my teammates, as long as they can see a little bit and I can try to prove it to them and get their respect, that’s all I ask for. I’m trying my hardest."

Pryor, though, was downgraded after his three-play performance against Kansas City in the Raiders' home finale on Dec. 16, when he flubbed a cadence and caused a false start.

Pryor has only been dressing and active this season since the Cleveland game on Dec, 2.

"I still studied like I was the starter," Pryor said. "I got that from Carson. He told me that -- study like you’re a starter. Even last year with Al Saunders. It just carries on. I believe the boring stuff, watching film and stuff like that, is what’s going to make you a great quarterback.

"Growing up, my favorite quarterback was Tom Brady, and I still, to this day, like him. He’s one of the best quarterbacks ever to play the game. Obviously, Carson, I’ve watched him a lot. Just watching them guys, why are you so smart? Peyton Manning; why is he so smart? It’s the things that you do that are boring. The things that Cam Newton, RGIII (Robert Griffin III), they’re getting better at it and doing, I’m sure, too. I commend them. I’m just trying to get better from that standpoint. Just keep working."

Seeing a guy with a similar skill set in Carolina's Cam Newton up close and personal Sunday also got his juices flowing.

"Watching Cam, it definitely makes my heart jump because when I look at Cam, I see myself and all that," Pryor said. "Fifteen-extra-pound guy. He can throw the rock around, too. I see myself, like I said, and, obviously, my heart, I just jump out, like, 'Oh, my God, I want to get in.'

"But there’s a time and place. Whenever coach (Greg) Knapp and coach Allen believe it, Mr. (Reggie) McKenzie, I’ll seize the opportunity. But right now, (I'm) just working hard, staying late and trying to be the first one in and being the best that I can. That’s all you can control in the NFL."

Raiders DC Paul Guenther talks Khalil Mack, Gareon Conley and more


Raiders DC Paul Guenther talks Khalil Mack, Gareon Conley and more

Paul Guenther hasn’t been Raiders defensive coordinator long. He has been in Alameda about a week now, interviewing potential position coaches and pouring over last year’s game tape.

He has some initial impressions on the group that struggled at the start and improved throughout the year. Generally speaking, however, Guenther sees talent on the roster.

“I believe there’s a lot of good players here, a lot of good, young players,” Guenther said Wednesday in a conference call. “You’ve got to get them out and develop them and get them to understand your system. But I think there are a lot of good pieces here for a foundation, for sure.”

Guenther’s system, where it came from and why he brought it to Oakland is a story for another day. Thursday morning, to be precise, so stay tuned for that.

Guenther’s early evaluation of key Raiders, however, supports his statement about a strong foundation. He is most excited, as you’d expect, about working with edge rusher Khalil Mack and several others in silver and black.

Here’s what Guenther said about…

-- DE KHALIL MACK: “Having a talent like that and ability of a guy like that, certainly you want to make it the centerpiece of the defense. We have to continue to develop our younger players to bring those guys up to speed and add people as we go through the draft and free agency. He’s a guy that you can really build a foundation through and around. He’s an exciting guy to be able to coach for sure.”

-- CB GAREON CONLEY: “He was my favorite corner coming out. His ability, he’s smooth in the pedal, he’s a good press corner, which we love to have. I’m excited to work with him.”

-- S OBI MELIFONWU: “Obi is a big guy that when you turn on the tape, you’re like, ‘Man, who is this son of a gun?’ He’s playing half the field, he’s down in the box playing the run.”

-- LB NAVORRO BOWMAN: (an impending free agent): “NaVorro is a prototype middle linebacker, really. The thing that impressed me most with NaVorro is that they got him here midseason and by the end of the year, it appeared to me that he was kind of the leader of the unit, making a lot of calls. You can see that on tape. It looks like he is a smart guy that understands the game. I love smart guys that love playing football. Hopefully we can get him back in the fold and keep him a Raider.”

Raiders OC believes Raiders will 'grow as Derek Carr grows'


Raiders OC believes Raiders will 'grow as Derek Carr grows'

Quarterback Derek Carr’s stage is set for a giant step forward.

Offensive coordinator Greg Olson thinks it happened the moment Jon Gruden became Raiders head coach, though not solely due to the mentor and his proven offensive system. It’s also the 10-year contract formally bringing him back. There’s no telling whether Gruden mans his post a full decade, but an extended stretch is guaranteed.

That in itself, Olson, says, is invaluable to a passer entering his fifth season with a fourth head coach and third offensive scheme.

“Probably more so than anything,” Olson said, “this guy has to get some continuity.”

Gruden will provide that, with Olson a link to Carr’s past. Olson was Raiders offensive coordinator from 2013-14, and guided Carr’s rookie campaign. Quarterback and coordinator worked well together a 3-13 season where the Fresno State alum started every game.

They’ll reunite under Gruden and stick together this time. Olson, after all, signed a four-year deal that’s double the industry standard.

“Derek is going to be in a system now,” Olson said Wednesday in a conference call with local media. “He’s going to be coached by a head coach that’s going to be the play caller. That’s the first time Derek will have an offensive head coach that has a quarterback background and will be hands on with him on a day-to-day basis. I just see that growth curve skyrocketing because of that.”

Carr’s trajectory went straight up from his rookie season with Olson through the next two years – he was a legit MVP candidate in 2016 -- though it markedly dipped during a disappointing 6-10 campaign.

Gruden and Olson are generally charged with fixing an offense with talent but little production last year, though their primary objective remains more specific.

Get Carr back on track.

“Everything we do in this building is going to be about the development of Derek Carr,” Olson said. “The way we script practices, the way we are doing drills, everything that we do is all about the development of the quarterback. That will really speed the development of Derek. More so than anything is that there’s somebody here in place that’s going to make everything that we do and that everyone in the building understand that we grow as Derek Carr grows.”

Olson knows first-hand about Carr’s work ethic and acumen. He has seen athleticism, passing accuracy and a quick release turn football smarts into production. He told Gruden all that following the 2014 season, and believes Carr’s presence was an attraction to take the Raiders job.

“We drafted this guy to be that franchise quarterback," Olson said. "We feel like he has the potential to be that guy that can be here and play for 10 more years. It’s up to us to try and get that out of him. We’ll do everything in our power to make sure that that happens."