Raiders

Pryor: 'Oakland loves me, I love Oakland'

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Pryor: 'Oakland loves me, I love Oakland'

OAKLAND -- Did you see it, or did you blink?

Terrelle Pryor's much-anticipated 2012 season debut came and went in the course of four snaps of the ball and then, like Keyser Söze, he was gone. Not that Pryor was surprised…or outwardly upset.

"We had set just one series," Pryor said, "so that was a set. I would have the first series of the second quarter. So it’s a steppingstone, a step. I enjoyed the four plays or whatever it was. It’s a steppingstone, and I was excited to get in there at least."

Pryor took the field with 14:48 to play in the second quarter and, karma being what it is, was the victim of a false start, on right guard Mike Brisiel. Remember, in his lone "play" last season, Pryor himself was called for a false start.

Then, on 1st and 15 from his own 10-yard line, the third-string quarterback handed off to Darren McFadden, who ran for six yards, before giving the ball again to McFadden, for a two-yard gain.

On 3rd and 7, Pryor missed Darrius Heyward-Bey across the middle.

"I didn’t think I rushed it," Pryor said of his pass. "It was a progression. I got to the third progression, they covered up the tight end on the backside, to the left -- a slant to the boundary. The slant was covered. They doubled him, actually. So I saw a guy, I went to go pass it to DHB and I saw (Javier Arenas) jump it. He was about to jump-cut it, so I just threw it right underneath.

"That would suck if I went right in and threw a pick. But I saw the guy. I was running out of time and guys were getting by me so I just threw it in. Just moving forward, no pick, no interception, no bad play really. So, get better this week in practice."

To his growing legion of fans, though, it was the greatest incompletion in the history of incompletions…or somesuch.

"Oakland loves me," Pryor said. "I love Oakland. I was excited to get out there. There’s not much I can say. I only had four plays, so not much I could really pick apart about myself. The defense that was there on that third-down pass, wasn’t a great type of play for that defense. We weren’t expecting it.

"But you know, next play. That means practice, get ready in practice next week, and just keep pushing as I always do."

Pryor came off the field, Shane Lechler punted and the next time the Raiders offense took the field, Carson Palmer was back under center to close out the Raiders' 15-0 defeat of Kansas City.

"The plan was to get him in the first series of the second quarter and then kind of let the game play out from there," said coach Dennis Allen. "We went three and out in that series and I thought we were doing some nice things with Carson and nice things in the run game and we just stuck with the plan.

"It's been a while since he's played, so we'll look at that going forward. How much he plays? I don't have an answer to that, exactly, but we'll see on a game-by-game basis."

Of course, fans reacted positively when Pryor entered the game and were quizzical when Palmer replaced him.

On the day, Palmer moved into second place on the Raiders' single-season lists for both passing attempts (562) and passing yards (3,987).

"I thought he did good," Palmer said of Pryor. "He didn't get much of a shot, or an opportunity. I know he's been waiting a long time."

And yet, Pryor is not bitter. Again, at least, not outwardly. Bored? Perhaps. But not bitter.

"These are the cards I'm dealt and I love learning from the guy right here," Pryor said as he nodded at Palmer. "I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. When the time’s right, I’ll be ready. And I just love learning from (Palmer)."

Someone mentioned that many think the time is now for Pryor to play.

"Definitely, but this guy right here, Carson, he hasn’t did anything wrong," Pryor said. "I think he did everything he can to try to win this year. Obviously, we want to score points, but he hasn’t played bad at all. If you really go back and look at film, it’s either a guy ran short on a route or a missed block assignment, anything like that. It’s not on Carson. He plays great.

"You can’t just take a guy out that plays great like that. I just love learning from him, like I said, and I look forward to keep on learning from him."

Irvin, Mack given a day off from Raiders practice

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USATSI

Irvin, Mack given a day off from Raiders practice

ALAMEDA – Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin were out at Raiders practice Wednesday for the stretching period. Both edge rushers left one-at-a-time during the individual period, which was open to the press, headed into the main building and did not return.

There was no perceived reaction, certainly no surprise, from the coaching staff or players on the field. Irvin and new defensive coordinator John Pagano were seen joking around on the field before practice began in earnest. 

Both Irvin and Mack were given a practice off. A Raiders official called it a day off/rest-type day that was not injury related. The Silver and Black typically practice in pads or shells on Wednesday, but were in jerseys and sweats in the interest of recovery.

This day off's timing did raise an eyebrow.

Wednesday marked the first practice Irvin has missed since training camp. Mack hasn’t missed one in months.

Mack and Irvin’s downtime also came a day after beloved defensive coordinator Ken Norton’s firing.

Several defensive players were upset about Norton's firing, but Mack and Irvin especially were among those loyal to Norton. Mack and Norton developed a bond after the coach was named defensive coordinator in 2015. Norton and Irvin go way back to their days together in Seattle. Irvin credits Norton for helping him get on the right path and stay there.

Neither player was happy Norton got the axe. Irvin made his displeasure clear, tweeting “BULLS***” shortly after news of Norton’s demise broke. Mack told ESPN “I like to keep my thoughts private.” Defensive stars declined comment Wednesday or didn't appear in the locker room when the media was present. 

It isn’t immediately clear if the non-injury related day off was related to Norton’s dismissal. Head coach Jack Del Rio won’t speak to the media again until Friday. New defensive coordinator John Pagano is scheduled to speak Thursday afternoon.

Del Rio addressed the media before Wednesday’s practice, and was asked how he’ll handle players unhappy with the in-season shake-up.

“I don’t try and 'handle' them,” Del Rio said. “I think the biggest thing is to understand the relationship, respect that, give him a little space and then at the end of the day, we’re going to get on with our work. But, I’m human. It wasn’t easy for me either.”

Del Rio: 'Nobody should feel comfortable,' following Norton firing

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USATSI

Del Rio: 'Nobody should feel comfortable,' following Norton firing

ALAMEDA – Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio put out a statement Tuesday explaining why he fired defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr.

He went into greater detail Wednesday afternoon, his first time facing the media since a change was made

Specifics will be discussed further down this story. We don’t, however, want to bury the lede.

Del Rio’s main message wasn’t about Norton. It applied to all in Silver and Black. This season has not met lofty expectations. That is unacceptable.

“I know one thing,” Del Rio said. “Nobody should feel comfortable, because what I’ve been watching is not good enough.”

Del Rio didn’t absolve himself from blame. Norton got fired, but everyone has played a part in this disappointing 4-6 record.

“It’s always shared,” Del Rio said. “A change was made, obviously. We all share in it, all of us, starting with me. It’s coaches and players. It’s a team game, and we’re all in it together. And nobody is coming to help us.”

The Raiders must look inward to start a prolonged winning streak they’ve shown little evidence they can create.

The seat will be warm under players and coaches alike, even if only one change was made. Expect further shakeup on the coaching staff after the season, if vast improvements don’t come down the stretch, possibly with several position coaches being shown the door. More than a few higher profile players could be cut or allowed to leave, especially on defense.

While Del Rio has taken more heat the past month than at any other time in his Raiders tenure, expect him to be around a longer term. He was given a contract extension in February, and has significant capitol built after changing the culture in Oakland and re-teaching this team how to win. One bad year, even if this season continues heading downhill, shouldn’t erase that.

Del Rio was looking to shake things up, and Norton was the obvious move. Experienced play caller John Pagano was on staff – he was Chargers defensive coordinator from 2012-2016 – and firing the popular Pagano’s style could create some new waves and looks that any offensive Norton would make an impact in the locker room and prove this story’s opening quote, that no one should feel comfortable.

Del Rio hopes firing Norton will be a shock to the defense’s system.

“I really felt like I needed to shake things up,” Del Rio said. “We couldn’t continue doing what we’ve been doing to this point. So I made the call. The whole idea is to change what we’re doing and make sure…what I’m looking for at the end of the day is for us to play fast on defense. We weren’t playing fast enough. We weren’t playing confident enough.”