QB Pryor praised for improvement as a passer

Published: Friday, Oct. 11, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 6C
Last Modified: Friday, Oct. 11, 2013 - 6:50 am

ALAMEDA – Terrelle Pryor is resisting the urge to offer a heaping helping of "I told you so" to the skeptics who doubted his skill as a passer.

"You've got to respect the progression and respect the people critiquing you, because at the end of the day that's what it's all about – getting better," Pryor said Wednesday as the Raiders got in their first full day of preparation for Sunday's game against the unbeaten Kansas City Chiefs.

For all the attention focused on Pryor's ability to extend plays with his feet, the fact is his passing statistics have him in the realm of the NFL's top quarterbacks.

Pryor's 97.6 passer rating ranks behind Peyton Manning, Tony Romo, Philip Rivers, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan and Jake Locker. His completion percentage of 68.2 trails only Manning (75.8), Rivers (73.7), Romo (71.8), Brees (69.7) and Ryan (69.3).

And it's not all because Pryor is breaking outside and finding receivers on scramble drills. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Pryor's 72.7 completion percentage in the pocket is fourth in the NFL, ahead of both Brees and Rodgers.

Some of Pryor's success has to do with Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson furnishing him with the routes he throws best. But there is little doubt Pryor has come a long way in a short time as a passer.

During the Napa portion of training camp, Pryor was running behind the departed Matt Flynn because he wasn't throwing the ball nearly as well as he is now.

"His mechanics have really improved," Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. "He's got a good presence in the pocket, yet can get out and make plays. He's always been a great athlete, but he's getting better as a quarterback."

ESPN analyst and former Colts general manager Bill Polian said in a recent interview he was "shockingly surprised" at Pryor's passing skill because he'd never run into anybody that thought Pryor could be a top-flight quarterback.

And now?

"He's improved more than any player I've seen," Polian said Monday on ESPN.

Pryor credited Olson and quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo in helping refine his passing skill with the Raiders. However, with the current collective bargaining agreement, he is allowed only a certain amount of practice time with his coaches in the offseason.

Pryor began working with former USC coach and major-league pitcher Tom House, a guru on throwing mechanics. House has worked with throwers as accomplished as Tom Brady and as raw as Tim Tebow.

Pryor said he was told Tebow was throwing much better after working with House, only to revert to his previous form once he got back to practice. Pryor promised himself it wouldn't happen to him.

"That was the only thing I'm worried about, that when I get rushed, I don't go back to the same thing," Pryor said. "I'm very proud of that. I'm very locked in."

When Pryor throws an errant pass in practice, he said he can now quickly identify why it went astray.

"I believe I can throw the ball anywhere at anytime, and I can make any throw right now," Pryor said. "And if I miss, I know how to fix it."

Note – Running backs Darren McFadden (hamstring) and Rashad Jennings (hamstring) were back at practice, although their reps were limited, and both could be available to face the Chiefs.

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