ALAMEDA – Raiders backup quarterback Matt Flynn may make a spot start Sunday against Washington. Then again, he may not. It all depends on whether Terrelle Pryor's fully recovered from a concussion suffered Monday at Denver.
It’s a familiar, yet unexpected role for a career backup expected to be a full-time starter this season. Flynn lost his job to Terrelle Pryor in the preseason, demoted after an uneven camp featuring quality practices and subpar game performance.
Elbow trouble sapped his arm strength as camp wore on, just as Pryor emerged as an attractive option on a team with an injury-riddled offensive line. The pecking order shifted in an exhibition versus Chicago, where Flynn stunk and Pryor flashed real potential.
A sinking feeling returned to Flynn’s gut. Emotion, roughly translated: Oh no. Not again.
Flynn lost a starting job to Russell Wilson last year in Seattle. This brought an unwelcome case of déjà vu.
“It’s just as disappointing this time, probably more so,” Flynn said. “It’s probably easier in terms of how to deal with it. I don’t think anybody in sports would say they weren’t upset after not starting, but I know that I still have a job to do. I’m still an Oakland Raider. I have to help this team prepare. I’d like to think I shook it off pretty quick.”
The disappointment was raw for some time. Flynn declined interview requests for weeks, opening up Wednesday after taking first-team reps with Pryor sidelined.
Flynn said he would be prepared and ready to start, even if a formal decision isn’t made until the last minute. He also said his throwing arm, which hindered him during camp, was fresh and ready to go.
The same couldn’t be said at the end of camp. He was sidelined a week with elbow tendinitis, a nagging ailment that wasn’t new.
“I’ve never had an issue until the last training camp in Seattle,” Flynn said. “I dealt with it throughout the last year, but it didn’t really effect my throwing. It was an attempt to make it better in the offseason by not throwing that might have hurt. My arm probably wasn’t in as good of shape as it should’ve been to deal with throwing a ton of passes in camp. It had an effect on me, but I don’t know how much of a part it played into what happened.”
Raiders coach Dennis Allen was impressed by Flynn’s practice performance.
“I thought he threw the ball well, both short throws and deep throws,” Allen said. “I have all the confidence in the world, as well as the players in the locker room, that if he’s called upon to perform on Sunday that he’ll do the job.”
Pryor’s health will determine whether Flynn plays Sunday or not. If Pryor can’t go, Flynn won’t look at Sunday as a shot at redemption. He seems at peace with his lot, knowing that the quarterback competition is over.
“I'm not going to try and prove anything,” Flynn said. “If I do get the chance to play, then I'll play the best I can. I'm going to go out there and lay it on the line and try to do the things I can to try help this team win. Nothing has shaken confidence in myself, so I'm going to go out there and I believe I can do it and do the best I can."