Oakland Raiders fans will get a close look at their past and future at quarterback in Thursday night’s exhibition finale against the Seattle Seahawks.
Rookie Derek Carr will start and get ample playing time in place of injured Matt Schaub for the Raiders, while last season’s opening game starter in Oakland, Terrelle Pryor, should get significant playing time as he fights for a roster spot with the Seahawks.
After a promising start to last season, Pryor’s struggles eventually led him to lose his starting job in Oakland and then get traded to Seattle for a seventh-round pick in May’s draft.
With Pryor out of the picture, the Raiders traded for Schaub to take over as starter and drafted Carr as his heir apparent. With Schaub struggling in the first three exhibition games and nursing a sore elbow, Carr might have a chance to speed up that process.
“Every day is an opportunity, a huge opportunity,” Carr said. “You have to go out and prove yourself every day.”
Carr has impressed the coaching staff ever since he arrived as a second-round pick out of Fresno State. He has adjusted to a pro-style offense after running the spread in college the past two seasons and has deep knowledge of the position having watched older brother David’s NFL career.
Carr played well in the second exhibition game against Detroit, leading three scoring drives before leaving with a concussion and sore ribs. He sat out as a precaution last week in Green Bay but figures to get plenty of playing time against the Seahawks.
“The guy’s comfortable in the huddle,” offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. “The game’s not too big for him. I still believe that he sees the field very well. I don’t think the game’s too fast for him, which a lot of times, that’s a big concern with a rookie quarterback. But he’s done some really nice things in some of the preseason games in terms of his pocket presence.”
Pryor has not fared as well this summer in Seattle and is fighting to remain on the roster after cut-down day Saturday. He threw a bad interception late last week against Chicago after he was surprised to get put into the game.
“I thought I was sitting out the whole game,” he said. “You have to own up to those things and I’ll play better this week. That’s a definite.”
He has completed just 10 of 22 passes for 147 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions this preseason. But he has rushed for 85 yards on 12 carries, including a 44-yard TD against San Diego two weeks ago.
With Tavaris Jackson entrenched as Russell Wilson’s backup, Pryor needs to show enough to persuade coach Pete Carroll to keep a third quarterback on the roster this season.
“He’s been a really good student of the game,” Carroll said. “He just dove into it, taking great pride in commanding in the huddle. Right from the start, he was very impressive right from the beginning. Got a good way about himself in handling it. We can call the whole offense. We can do everything that we want to do. He’s an explosive, dynamic football player. He’s done a good job.”
Pryor showed flashes of what he could do early last season for the Raiders, completing 68.1 percent of his passes for 845 yards, four touchdowns, two interceptions and a 97.6 passer rating in his first four starts. But he struggled after that and lost his starting job to Matt McGloin and lost the trust of his coaches.
But the Raiders know he still presents a challenge, especially the way he can run the ball, which will be a good test for an Oakland defense that might have to deal with Michael Vick in the season opener against the New York Jets.
“He’s still extremely athletic,” coach Dennis Allen said of Pryor. “He can make a lot of plays in the pocket, moving around in the pocket, creating. … Obviously, his speed is something that we’re certainly concerned about. So he’s shown a lot of the same things that we saw when he was here.”