ALAMEDA -- Raiders starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor was at practice on Thursday, taking first-team reps. So was backup Matt McGloin.
The Raiders want both passers ready for Sunday’s game against the Houston Texans, just in case Pryor’s sprained knee keeps him out or renders him ineffective.
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The pair will split reps again on Friday, because the Raiders don’t have a choice. A savvy veteran could play without snaps. As an undrafted rookie, McGloin needs all he can get.
With a pocket passer, the Raiders could generally negate the effects of a sprained knee. With one as mobile and athletic as Pryor, you can’t replicate his improvisations in practice.
Try as they might to determine explosiveness and durability, the Raiders won’t really know how Pryor will respond until game time.
The Raiders thought Pryor would play well Sunday against the Giants. He didn't. Pryor showed no limitations last week in practice, but he wasn’t his elusive self after kickoff. He had 122 yards passing, an interception and a career-low 19 rushing yards.
It will be tough to gauge Pryor’s effectiveness in these practices, but the Raiders are going to look for clues.
“We asked him yesterday to rest and today to show us a little bit of explosiveness so we could see what he could do,” offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. “We never put him out there live, obviously, but we would like to see him run around and he ran around really well today.”
That isn’t a telltale sign. That’s why the Raiders hope for the best with Pryor and prepare for the worst.
“We were able to get them both work today and will continue to get them both work tomorrow,” Olson said. “Again, it will come down to health with Terrelle, because of greater experience than Matt [McGloin]. Today, Matt got more reps today just because of his inexperience.”
If Pryor’s healthy, he’ll start. Odds are he’ll make enough progress to do so. While Allen never considered pulling Pryor last week, he won’t hesitate to give him the hook in Houston.
The Raiders are expected to wait until Sunday to decide on a starter, especially after news that Pryor’s knee got worse on the Saturday and Sunday morning before the Giants game. They’ll wait until the bitter end to make a choice and keep McGloin up to speed.
Olson will consequently develop two game plans around a central structure. He'll have to with the possibility of McGloin under center. He’s unfit to run some of the read-option and rollout plays designed specifically for Pryor, meaning Olson would revert back to the version designed for now-castoff and presumed starter Matt Flynn. That scheme is predicated on power rushing and short passes befitting a typical pocket passer.
It isn’t ideal heading into a tough road test, but Olson believes his unit has adjusted well.
“I think all of our players are resilient overall; they understand the situation,” Olson said. They know what kind of player Terrelle is and they know what kind of player Matt McGloin is. I think they’ve been great really early this week as far as understanding the situation at the quarterback position. They’re just kind of rolling with it. They’re very comfortable with the previous system before with Matt Flynn. I think they’re very comfortable with what we’re doing.”