When starting quarterback Carson Palmer left Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers with a rib injury, it would have been a perfect time to insert Terrelle Pryor and see what he can offer. Instead the Raiders opted to go with Matt Leinart, who threw for 115 yards and an interception. The coaching staff has gone back and forth in the last month on whether or not they want to use Pryor and in what capacity. This week, they missed a golden opportunity to develop a young talented player.
“Matt is our back-up quarterback,” Raiders head coach Dennis Allen said after the game. “Terrelle has done a nice job. He's working really hard. We don't feel like he is ready to be the back-up quarterback yet and we felt like Matt would give us the best chance.”
The Raiders know what they have in Leinart. He has been the same steady but unspectacular quarterback for his entire seven year career. It is understandable that Oakland would keep Palmer as the starting quarterback because he has the experience and history to justify it. However, when the unfortunate injury occurred, the Raiders coaching staff misfired by not playing Pryor more. Pryor remains the same unknown today as he has all season. Leinart is not a player the Raiders can count on in the future, whereas Pryor has not been afforded the chance to prove if he is or not.
Pryor is as physically gifted as any player on the team. Offensive coordinator Greg Knapp wanted to use Pryor on some third down and short situations and in the redzone. He played one redzone snap completing a five yard pass to fullback Marcel Reece. On the first play of the game Pryor lined up under center and threw a pass to Palmer, who tossed it back to Pryor for a 22 yard gain. Pryor also had one rush for two yards. Those were the only plays he got a chance to make and all were positive plays.
Pryor is still in the development stage of his career so you can understand the Raiders apprehensiveness to play him. However, with a 4-11 record and a team that will have a very different look next year, it is time to see if he is in their future plans. If he is not ready, it is the responsibility of the coaches to give him more reps in practice and give him more of the playbook. This year has been a disappointment for Oakland. Now offensive coordinator Greg Knapp, with the support of Allen, needs to give Pryor the opportunity. If they cannot find a way to utilize his unique talents, the team has bigger problems.
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