Greg Olson created an offensive package this offseason to get Raiders backup quarterback Terrelle Pryor on the field. He didn’t want such athleticism to lay fallow, not on a team in desperate need of offensive talent.
It started small, with a read option play here, a designed run there. The offensive coordinator considered it an accent piece to his offense, something to convert a first down or cross a goal line every now and then.
Pryor easily digested those plays, so Olson gave him more to chew. Even still, it was a novelty.
Now it could be a full time thing. Pryor is a legitimate contender to start behind center, which has forced Olson to adjust and expand Pryor’s responsibilities.
“We signed Matt [Flynn] with the thought being that he’s going to come in and be the starter, and we would have that package for Terrelle,” Olson said. “But Terrelle has done some things in these preseason games that we’ve been excited about; stuff that a lot of people are excited about. With his success on the field, we’ll continue to add to that package. It was the thought process going in to it. There wasn’t a big package for him a year ago, so we had to absorb that first part. As we continue to grow offensively, we’ll continue to add plays for Terrelle.”
Pryor’s emergence has come late in the preseason, leaving Olson with little time to iron out his offense. The scheme is tailor-made for this year’s talent, centered on running back Darren McFadden. It also played to Flynn’s strengths, with timing routes and short passes intended to create manageable third downs.
Pryor is a wild card. He’s an exciting player who still makes mistakes, still tries to create a big play when a safe one is available. His package of plays is expanding, but he’ll eventually need to master much more.
“I still think he’s developing as a player, still developing as a quarterback,” Olson said. “We’ll continue to work to develop him as that player, but we don’t want to take away from his strengths. Again, he’s got kind of a dual role. He’s going to be that athletic quarterback that we are going to ask to carry the football, but we need him to develop as a passer as well.”
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The Raiders need to see improvement during Thursday’s exhibition at Seattle, which offers him a chance to take hold of the starting spot. Olson believes his scheme can maximize Pryor’s talents while allowing him to progress as the season goes on.
“When you see Terrelle in a game, he just looks faster than the other players on the field,” Olson said. “That’s what jumped out at me, and probably jumped out at most people when they watch him play. He can run. He is a tremendous athlete, and he’s got the ability to make plays. Right now we’re looking for playmakers.”