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Raiders' Reggie McKenzie says vindication comes with playoff spot

  • Reggie McKenzie answers questions during a news conference introducing him as the new general manager of the Oakland Raiders NFL football team in Alameda, Calif. in 2012. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

ALAMEDA — Reggie McKenzie heard all the preseason predictions from the pundits that had his Oakland Raiders pegged as one of the worst teams in the NFL.

After a tight road loss at Indianapolis and a home win over Jacksonville to start the season, the Raiders general manager is not ready to crow about his team's success.

“Vindication? No. Not at all,” he said Wednesday. “It's way too early. Vindication is when we're in the playoffs. Then it's a whole new season. That's my goal. Our goal is to try and win as many games as we can and get to the playoffs.”

McKenzie touched on many subjects in a 30-minute interview with local beat reporters, with much of the focus being on the quarterbacks after Terrelle Pryor beat out Matt Flynn for the starting job in training camp.

Flynn held the top spot for most of the offseason and training camp after McKenzie traded two draft picks to Seattle and committed $6.5 million in guaranteed money to acquire a quarterback he spent four years with in Green Bay.

McKenzie had traded away last year's starter, Carson Palmer, and did not have confidence in Pryor to be the starter at the time of the deal in April.

But Pryor exceeded expectations in the preseason and Flynn struggled with a sore elbow, leading to the decision to go with late owner Al Davis' final draft pick over the player hand-picked by the new regime.

“He's made leaps and bounds from last year, from the time I spent with him,” McKenzie said. “He's done a good job.”

Pryor has done well so far. He posted the eighth 200-yard passing, 100-yard rushing game since the 1970 merger in the 21-17 loss at Indianapolis and then posted a 19-9 win in the home opener over Jacksonville.

McKenzie said Pryor is only getting better as his confidence and playing time increases.

McKenzie has spent much of his first two years on the job tearing down the team as part of a massive rebuilding job. Only 14 players on the active roster were with the organization when McKenzie was hired in January 2011.

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