By Ryan Leong
For the second half of the season, many Raiders fans have wanted to see what the future holds for this team without an identity.
That became more evident this past Sunday when Carson Palmer’s season ended a game early. Late in the first quarter, Palmer was drilled by Carolina DE Greg Hardy. The result was cracked ribs and a bruised lung. Matt Leinart who is the team’s backup quarterback was 16-of-32 for 115 yards and an interception in his first action of 2012.
But fans and football experts are eager to see what Terrelle Pryor can bring to the table. Next year, Palmer is due $13 million but it’s not guaranteed. He is no longer an elite quarterback, and at the age of 33, it’s probably best for the Raiders to part ways.
Statistically, he finished the year passing for 4,018 yards joining Rich Gannon as the only Raiders to have 4,000 passing yards in a season. Gannon had 4,689 in 2002 when the Raiders had their last winning season culminating in their appearance in Super Bowl XXXVII. Palmer also had 22 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
On the second play of the Raiders opening drive, Pryor and Palmer collaborated on a flea flicker. Pryor took the snap and threw the ball to Palmer behind the line of scrimmage. Then Palmer threw it back and Pryor turned it into a 22-yard gain. Pryor also completed a 5-yard pass and had a 2-yard run in two plays near the goal line.
Initially following the loss at Carolina, Allen wouldn’t commit to using Pryor for anything but specific plays.
“We don’t feel like he’s ready to be the backup quarterback yet and we felt like Matt would give us the best chance,” Allen said.
He sure changed his tune after a review of the game video.
“Well, I think he’s still a work in progress as far as that’s concerned,” Allen said. “He’s worked extremely hard in practice. I don’t know that he’s got full command of everything that we’re doing. I wouldn’t expect a lot different out of any other young quarterback. He’s got to continue to work and he’s done a nice job. Like I said, we’ll work him this week in practice; we’ll make a decision at the end of the week which way we want to go.”
Late in the second quarter, Leinart gambled with a deep pass attempt to Denarius Moore and was easily intercepted. But the Raiders’ offense wasn’t doing much better with Palmer and the team hasn’t scored a touchdown in its last eight quarters.
General manager Reggie McKenzie has stated his desire to see Pryor get more playing time but Allen will continue to evaluate his progress.
“We watch him every day in practice and I think we’ve got a pretty decent feel for where he’s at as a quarterback. But yet, he’s got some athletic ability and has some tools to work with and I think we got to keep working with him.”
It’s more than likely that Leinart will get the start for the season finale in San Diego given his experience, but the Raiders have nothing to lose by auditioning Pryor for next season.
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Ryan Leong has reported on over 2,800 games in the Bay Area since 1998, covering the Sharks, Giants, A’s, Warriors, 49ers, Raiders and the local college teams for radio networks and wire services. Having the best seat in the house to watch sports has been a thrill and Ryan still enjoys going to the games giving fans some insight and perspective on the players and coaches. His work can be found on Examiner.com.