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."
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."