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Pryor to have role this week for Raiders

Pryor to have role this week for Raiders

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) After spending most of the season on the bench, Terrelle Pryor has been playing a key role this week for the Oakland Raiders by impersonating Cam Newton in practice.

Pryor could have an even higher-profile role come game time Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. Offensive coordinator Greg Knapp says Pryor will get on the field in certain specialty packages for the Raiders (4-10).

Pryor made his season debut last week, handing the ball off twice and throwing one incomplete pass as the coaching staff wanted to give him an entire series. The next step is using him in specific situations that can take advantage of his athleticism at quarterback.

``You'll see him a little bit on third downs, you'll see him maybe in the red zone, try to create a different look for the defense to contend with,'' Knapp said. ``It won't be so much the structure of last week, where he had a series, which we thought was fair to him. ... We're going to try to use some of his athletic ability this week.''

With more and more teams turning to dual-threat quarterbacks like Newton, Washington's Robert Griffin III or San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick, Pryor's athleticism has been tantalizing for Raiders fans looking for any kind of bright spot to a disappointing season.

As a star at Ohio State, Pryor showed many of the same skills those other young quarterbacks are displaying. He just wants the opportunity to prove he can do what they're doing in the NFL.

``Right now I don't want to compare myself to Kaepernick or Cam or any of those guys because them guys and Griffin have proved it,'' he said. ``I haven't proved anything. I can't really say I'd be like them. I don't know what I'm going to be like because I haven't even played yet.''

Pryor is using those skills right now on the scout team to help the Raiders prepare for Newton. Oakland has struggled most of the season defensively and now has to deal with a new kind of challenge. A running quarterback like Newton can beat teams with his arm, as a scrambler or on designed runs out of the read-option.

``He creates a lot of other issues that you have to worry about,'' coach Dennis Allen said. ``You have to worry about him in the passing game just scrambling around and keeping the play alive. Obviously, they use him in a lot of different ways in the running game also. He presents some unique challenges.''

In a league with more and more running threats at quarterback, Newton still is one of the most dangerous. He leads Carolina with 647 yards rushing and is averaging 6 yards per carry - trailing only Griffin for most by a quarterback.

He leads all quarterbacks with seven touchdowns rushing - more than twice as many as Oakland's team total of three - and has rushed for 1,353 yards and 21 touchdowns in two seasons in the NFL.

``I've dealt with scrambling quarterbacks before but nothing like Cam Newton,'' Raiders linebacker Miles Burris said. ``He's kind of a breed of his own. A lot of new quarterbacks nowadays, like RG3 and those guys, running around, they can threaten your defense in a lot of different ways. So, we got to go out there and just prepare the best we can. That's all we can do every week. Just fly around to the ball and good things happen if you work hard.''

Oakland hasn't had to deal with many running quarterbacks this season as the schedule has been filled with more traditional dropback passers Peyton Manning, Matt Ryan, Philip Rivers, Joe Flacco and Drew Brees.

The Raiders haven't allowed any quarterback to run for more than 35 yards, which Matt Cassel did back in October for Kansas City. In all, Oakland has allowed opposing quarterbacks to run for 143 yards on 41 carries, the longest a 19-yarder by Chase Daniel late in a blowout loss last month to New Orleans. Taking out 16 kneeldowns by the opponent and quarterbacks are averaging 6.6 yards per carry against the Raiders.

Oakland last faced a running quarterback more than a year ago and had trouble in a couple of those games. Christian Ponder scrambled his way to 71 yards on five runs for Minnesota. But Newton also has designed runs like Tim Tebow did a year ago for Denver; Tebow ran right through Oakland in his one start, gaining 113 yards on 13 carries.

The Raiders will dedicate a defender on certain plays just to track Newton.

``There's times in a game where if you don't have guys tracking him all the time, you can get in positions where he can hurt you,'' defensive coordinator Jason Tarver said. ``He's very good in the red zone. That's a situation where you have to have guys responsible for him.''

NOTES: DT Richard Seymour missed practice again with a hamstring injury and appears likely to miss his seventh straight game. Seymour is still tied for second on the team with three sacks. ... S Tyvon Branch also sat out with an ankle injury, but still could play Sunday.

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How the Ravens hope to ground the Air Raid offense on Sunday

How the Ravens hope to ground the Air Raid offense on Sunday

Robert Griffin III knows the Air Raid offense. He also knows not to call every version of it the “Air Raid.”

When Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury was hired in Arizona, team’s intention was clear: Bring the “Air Raid,” or at least its concepts, to the NFL full-time. The team picked quarterback Kyler Murray No. 1 overall to lead the offense, committing to the system full bore. 

Whatever you call it, the offense is going to test the Ravens defense — specifically the secondary — Sunday afternoon at M&T Bank Stadium. 

“Everybody has their own style,” Griffin said. “The foundation of the offense, of spreading people out, of trying to get easy completions, throwing the ball, it’s something that can translate to the NFL. I think our defense has a good grasp of what they’re going to be able to do, and what they can do.”

According to Sharpfootballstats.com, the Cardinals lined up with four wide receivers on 55 of their 82 offensive plays. They also lined up with three wide receivers on 15 plays and two wide receivers on nine plays. They never lined up with one or zero receivers. 

Murray threw the ball 54 times in the game, which went to overtime, as the Cardinals found their groove late in a 27-27 tie. 

But while the Cardinals are spreading things out, more so than any other NFL team, the concepts and route combinations aren’t foreign to the rest of the NFL.

“The thing of it is with Kliff’s offense, the offensive guys in this league have been stealing plays from him for years from Texas Tech,” Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale said. “We’re just getting the full monty, if you will, of the Air Raid offense. History has a way of repeating itself in this league.”

The opportunity exists, though, for the secondary to have a big day.

“But I love these type of games, as a DB you’ve got to love these type of games,” safety Earl Thomas said. “These are two-pick games right here. You’ve gotta love it.”

Anticipating many four-wide sets from the Cardinals, the Ravens already made a move by promoting cornerback Maurice Canady from the practice squad. With Jimmy Smith’s MCL sprain, the move will add some depth to the secondary on a day when they’ll need it most. 

The Ravens will have to dictate much of their defensive strategy to stopping the offensive attack, but they’re not trying to change their defense too much. 

“We have safeties that can cover receivers as well in zone and man coverage, so we’ll be in different kinds of personnel groups, just like we always are, just in terms of how we want to game-plan and match those guys,” coach John Harbaugh explained. “We have a plan for that, obviously...but it’s a challenge. They’re spread out way more than anybody else.”

While the Ravens try to slow down Kingsbury’s attack, the long term sustainability of the offense remains a question to the rest of the league. 

Griffin doesn’t have any concerns.

“Just look at it this way: Almost anything is sustainable, as long as you’re committed to it,” Griffin said. “I had a coach tell me one time, ‘If you believe in something, then you have to go forth and do that thing consistently.’ That’s what they’re doing. They’re not partially doing the Air Raid, they’re fully committed to it.”

A full commitment to the offense, however, still means pulling from the rest of the league. 

The Cardinals don’t have an offensive coordinator, but Tom Clements is the team’s quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator. He was with the Green Bay Packers from 2006-2016.

The concepts that the Cardinals are using have been around the NFL for years. Now it's being fully implemented, and it's just a matter of keeping opposing defenses on their toes.

“Well, that’s no different from any other offense in the NFL, you have to keep evolving,” Griffin said. “If you don’t evolve, yes, you can be extinguished. But if you keep evolving the offense and keep evolving how you run the offense, yeah, it’s sustainable.”

Long-term viability aside, the only evolution the Ravens are concerned with is how the Cardinals will change from week one to week two. And even that can be a mystery.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s four-wide or four tight ends,” Martindale began. “I have angst every Sunday. It’ll be interesting to see if they stay heavy with that (four wide receiver) package, because they have other packages as well, and they can still do all of the same things out of it. So, it’s going to be a great challenge for us.”

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Ravens add cornerback Maurice Canady in preparation for Cardinals Air Raid offense

Ravens add cornerback Maurice Canady in preparation for Cardinals Air Raid offense

In preparation of the team's matchup against the Cardinals and their Air Raid offense, the Ravens added cornerback Maurice Canady to the 53-man roster off their practice squad. In a corresponding move, the team waived tackle Greg Senat.

With Jimmy Smith out with an MCL sprain, the team lacked depth at a position expected to be needed on Sunday. The Cardinals run their offense with a significant number of three and four-wide receiver sets, which is where Canady will come into play. 

Canady is a four-year veteran and was a sixth round pick of the Ravens in 2016. He'll play behind Marlon Humphrey, Brandon Carr, and Anthony Averett on Sunday.

Senat was a 2018 sixth round pick of the Ravens and was one of nine offensive linemen on the team. 

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