The Raiders need Terrelle Pryor now more than ever. The 24-year old quarterback understands that.
The offense stands a puncher’s chance under his leadership. The entire team feeds off his energy.
A phrase heard over and over following Sunday’s 21-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts was said well by safety Charles Woodson: “He gives us a chance to win. That’s all we can ask of him.”
The optimism of a team and an entire (Raider) nation on his shoulder, Pyror learned a lesson Sunday more valuable than any other: Just stay healthy.
Several ancillary objectives can accomplish that mission. Get out of bounds on early downs, even before the first-down marker. Scramble, but slide when you can. Don’t get hit flush. Seems logical enough. Not in Pryor’s mind.
“When I’m competing, I think I’m Superman,” Pryor said. “I think I can take on anything. But I’m human and I can’t do that. I know that, after a few games, it can take a physical toll. I have to minimize that by making better decisions.
Pryor remembers watching Robert Griffin III writhing in pain on the FedEx Field turf, no longer able to compete in the biggest game of his young life.
The image is burned into Pryor’s mind, a cautionary tale that keeps him in line.
[REWIND: Pryor: 'I played awful']
It’s one he lost sight off against the Colts, when he took 12 legitimate hits. That’s too many to take each week.
“I need to be smarter and get down, slide or get out of bounds,” Pryor said. “Look at RG III. He’s running around a ton and in that playoff game a hit just got him. All those hits keep adding up, adding up. After a while, you’re going to take a hit you’re not used to, or you’ll take a hit where your body is weak and you’ll go down.”
Pryor doesn’t want that. The Raiders can’t afford it.
“Terrelle brings some unique elements to his offense in his ability to create and improvise,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. “He does things well, and needs to do other things better. My anticipation is that he’s going to continue to grow, learn from those things and get better from those things. That’s what we’ve got to see as the year progresses, as we do with a lot of the young players that we have on the roster. You want to seethem learn from their mistakes and not make the same mistakes.”
Improvisation will always be part of Pryor’s game. He’ll continue to use speed and power to create and wear defenses out. There’s no prettier sight that a defense sucking wind, with hands on hips.
That’s when Pryor knows he’s got you. Tired or energetic, a defense can strike back by delivering big hits that wear him down over time or knock him out with one big blow. Pryor knows smart running will avoid an unwelcome fate, but it’s easier to say than do.”
“That’s the tough thing about it,” Pryor said. “I want to gain extra yards, but you have to be smart. You have to take chances on third down because you have to move the chains. But on second down, give yourself a chance to stay alive and make it to the next down. That has to win out over my competitive nature.”