Terrelle Pryor will start at quarterback for the Raiders in their 2012 regular-season finale against the San Diego Chargers, Oakland coach Dennis Allen told reporters Dec. 28.
"I’ve decided to go with Terrelle Pryor as our quarterback," Allen said following practice. “We know what his strengths are, we know what his weaknesses are. But really, to give him an opportunity to go out in a game, against a division opponent, at their place, and give him a chance to play, it gives us a view into the future.”
Allen said Pryor and backup Matt Leinart had been told earlier in the week Pryor was the likely replacement for the injured Carson Palmer, who started the season's first 15 games at quarterback.
"I wanted to see how each player responded,’’ Allen said. "I thought Terrelle responded well. I think he gives us a unique element of athleticism at the quarterback position and I think he deserves to get an opportunity to get out there and see what he can do."
Allen said Leinart “didn’t like" the decision and that he didn’t expect him, as a competitor, to like it."
Pryor, right, was taken in the third round of the NFL supplemental draft in August 2011 by late Raiders owner Al Davis. Pryor missed almost all of training camp and then served a five-game suspension before he could be activated. He got on the field just once as a rookie — committing a false start before his only play.
After a solid exhibiton performance (he threw for two TDs and ran for another), Pryor was inactive the first 11 games of the 2012 regular season. He played briefly the past two games in specialty packages — completing one of two passes for 5 yards, running for two yards and catching a 22-yard pass.
Pryor, 23, has not started a game since the Sugar Bowl for Ohio State against Arkansas on Jan. 4, 2011.
"I’m nervous. Until the first play I’m going to be nervous,” Pryor told reporters Dec. 28. "I’m human like you guys. I’m human like everybody. I just happen to play one of the best sports in the world. I’ll be nervous until the first snap."
“I’m confident. I’m sure my teammates have confidence in me as well. Like I said, you can’t put everything on my shoulders, can’t try to do everything. Just go out and let the players make plays and let myself make plays.”
Leinart, 29, was 16 of 32 passing for 115 yards with an interception against the Panthers. He engineered two drives that resulted in field goals. The former USC star has started only two games since 2007.
“The competitor in me wants to play, wants to start, but I do understand that they need to evaluate him, and I get that,” Leinart told reporters Dec. 28. “Obviously, you’re not happy by any means, but at the same time I’m a team player. I’ve learned a lot this year, and I’m happy to help."
Contra Costa Times