When the Oakland Raiders take on the San Diego Chargers in the 2012 season finale Sunday, quarterback Terrelle Pryor will make his first career start and look to avenge the team's week one loss to the AFC West rivals. In the first meeting, the Raiders lost Pro Bowl long snapper Jon Condo and as a result botched three punts in the 22-14 season opening loss to the Chargers.
Because of starting quarterback Carson Palmer being out with a rib and lung injury, Pryor gets the nod at quarterback beating out Matt Leinart for the job. Pryor was inactive the first 11 weeks of the season, but the coaches and organization want to see what they have in the young talented signal caller. So far this season Pryor has only attempted two passes, completing one to Marcel Reece for five yards. He will face a San Diego defense that amassed 11 sacks last week against the New York Jets. Pryor has a great blend of size, speed, and athleticism that should help him elude pressure. The Chargers are ranked 18th in the NFL against the pass allowing 235.4 yards per game which should afford Pryor some chances to make plays with his arm.
It will be interesting to see what impact Pryor starting will have on the rushing attack. The Raiders are ranked 29th in the NFL with an abysmal 87 yards per game. Darren McFadden could receive a boost from having Pryor in the game because he is a running threat as well. In the first meeting, McFadden only rushed for 32 yards on 15 carries, but did catch 13 passes. San Diego has the 4th ranked rushing defense in the league allowing just 95.1 yards per game.
The offensive line and wide receivers will be tasked with helping Pryor be comfortable. Left guard Mike Brisiel did not practice Friday with an ankle injury and will be a game time decision. Receivers Darrius Heyward-Bey, Denarius Moore, and Rod Streater will need to execute their routes well and find open spaces so Pryor can find them. They have not worked together much this season because Pryor was the third quarterback most of the year, limiting his practice reps.
Defensively the Raiders will be without cornerback Phillip Adams, who has placed on injured reserve. Adams had played well earning the starting job, but in both his starts he left with injuries. To fill his roster spot, the team promoted Cory Nelms from the practice squad. He will play mostly on special team. Brandian Ross will start for Adams. He joins cornerback Michael Huff to slow down San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers. Rivers leads the 23rd ranked passing offense averaging 210.3 yards per game. He has 24 touchdowns to 15 interceptions on the year.
In the first game, the Raiders did an outstanding job against the run. They held San Diego to only 32 rushing yards. They need that same effort and want to force the Chargers to become one dimensional only passing. Rivers has been sacked 47 times this season so look for the Raiders to attack with blitzes.
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