Editor’s note: This is the third part in a series that spotlights three Raiders-Chargers matchups to watch Sunday, 8:35 p.m., at Oakland Coliseum.
Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor vs. free safety Eric Weddle
Tale of the tape:
Pryor (2): 6-foot-4, 233 pounds, third year, Ohio State
Weddle (32) 5-foot-11, 200 pounds, seventh year, Utah
Eric Weddle is a smart fellow. The Chargers free safety covers extremely well down field, often disguising his intentions even to discerning eyes.
That means, above all else, Terrelle Pryor has to play smart. He has to take shots downfield when available, but he can’t afford the big mistakes Weddle can coax out of an unassuming quarterback.
Pryor has done an excellent job of protecting the football recently. He hasn’t turned the ball over in nearly a month, since the end of a Week 1 loss to Indianapolis. Pryor has play smart, making few reads before tucking to run.
Weddle can hang tough on broken plays, when Pryor is especially dangerous. The Raiders receivers have designated points of open field to hit with Pryor on the move, and Weddle watches enough film to anticipate those actions.
“There have been times where we’ve timed it to where our secondary knows it’s got to be 10 or 11 seconds possibly,” Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano said. “That’s digging down deep inside that heart and we’ve got to do a great job of really putting pressure on him to get him down.”
With Darren McFadden likely out with a hamstring injury, Pryor’s mobility is at a premium. He must run and throw well for the Raiders to compete with a high-scoring Chargers offense.
“I think that’s always been something that we need to utilize, is his mobility,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. “I think in a normal run game, you have to account for, basically, there are 10 players and somebody’s carrying the ball. Obviously, with Pryor it’s an added dimension there and they have to worry about defending two ball carriers back there with him back there. I think that’s something that we have to utilize to our advantage, to our benefit, and I think we’ll do that.”
Weddle typically plays center field, but he’ll be active against the run as well. He’ll be part of a team-wide effort to slow Pryor down, which has proven difficult. It’s been a point of emphasis as teams scheme against him, which the Chargers will certainly do.
“We have to change it up (with) different looks here and there,” Pagano said. “We’ve got a nice plan to be able to handle a running quarterback of his nature. We’re going to still go play our game. It’s not getting the guys to over think certain things. It’s understanding proper rush lanes, whether we’re bringing four or we’re rushing five or we’re rushing six in situations where it doesn’t matter, we’ve got to have the proper lanes to be able to get this guy down. It’s been a focus. It’s something that we’ve got to do a better job of.”