ALAMEDA — Even as a backup, Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor would write notes to wide receivers and leave them in their lockers after seeing something on video he thought might help.
The former Ohio State standout studied the NFL's best quarterbacks and tried to learn something from each of them — Tom Brady's balance and one-step drop, Robert Griffin III's arm angles and Colin Kaepernick's ball fakes.
And he would watch his own team from the sideline and try to stay involved in the game. Then he'd watch replays on his own time to figure out what he'd do if he was the starter.
The 24-year-old quarterback is finally comfortable enough to talk about his experiences publicly with the same strut and swagger he has always walked around the Raiders facility with. And for the first time, Pryor can finally take everything he's done since Al Davis picked him in the third round of the 2011 supplemental draft — the late owner's last pick — and put it to use as a leader on the field.
Pryor progressed enough during the preseason to start over Matt Flynn. He showed enough promise in a 21-17 loss at Indianapolis in Week 1 to keep the job heading into Oakland's home opener against Jacksonville (0-1) on Sunday. And now the Raiders hope he will produce enough to be the franchise's quarterback the rest of the season and beyond.
"At first, when it was me and Matt going at it, it's kind of tricky to be a leader and lead guys, because who are they looking at? Me? Matt? Who are they looking at to lead them?" Pryor said Wednesday. "Now that that's decided, I'm just going to go out and be myself. I think that's the best way because if I try and be somebody else, some of the guys I look up to around the league, they do this, they yell, some of the guys, so I'm just going to be myself, and I think myself is, I want to have success. The guys are going to thrive and see that, that I want success. Hopefully, it just rubs off and I believe it will."
After refusing to announce his starter last week for "competitive" reasons, Raiders coach Dennis Allen appears ready to ride Pryor the rest of the season.
Pryor completed 19 of 29 passes for 217 yards and a touchdown and set a Raiders franchise record for rushing by a quarterback with 112 yards on 13 carries against the Colts. He became the eighth quarterback since the 1970 merger to throw for at least 200 yards and run for at least 100 in a single game.
Allen said he'd still like to see Pryor get back to the huddle quicker following big runs to avoid clock-management issues. He's also talked to the 6-foot-5, 238-pound quarterback about sliding or getting out of bounds to avoid big hits.
"I can't sit here and lie to you because I'm so competitive I might forget," Pryor said. "I need to get down, absolutely. I have to. I got guys counting on me and I need to get down."
There still are areas in the passing game that Pryor needs to improve on and he is quick to acknowledge he has work to do. Despite carrying the offense most of the game, Pryor has repeatedly taken the blame for the loss because of two interceptions and a bad sack he took in the final two minutes after he drove Oakland to Indianapolis' 8-yard line.
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