(Photo by ClevelandBrowns.com)
After finding brief success at quarterback in 2013, Terrelle Pryor was leading the Oakland Raiders to be exciting for a change. In his first five games, he completed 64.5 percent of his passes for 1061 yards and five touchdowns versus five interceptions, an equivalent of an 84.8 passer rating. Most unsurprisingly, he rushed for 285 yards on forty-four carries.
Once the team reconvened following its bye in Week 7, everything went downhill for Pryor. In his next three starts, he completed just fifty percent of his passes, threw for no touchdowns versus five interceptions, and posted a passer rating that was roughly half of his during the first five weeks’ (43.7).
Although he ran the ball better, including by scoring two rushing touchdowns, Pryor lost his starting job until Week 17. That time, he had one more chance to show teams that he was worth a chance in 2014 by throwing for 207 yards and two touchdowns and rushing nine times for 49 yards versus the Denver Broncos. The one team that gave him that chance was the Seattle Seahawks.
Pryor showed that he could still outrun opponents by rushing sixteen times for 97 yards and a touchdown in that preseason. However, his passing deficiencies convinced Seattle to cut him after he posted a four-game passer rating of 64.2 by throwing for 281 yards, one touchdown versus two interceptions. Not even a preseason finale passer rating of 108.5 and a touchdown pass against his former team, the Raiders, could keep him or lead him to get a quarterbacking job elsewhere.
After two brief stints in the 2015 off-season with the Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals, Pryor finally ended the pursuit of playing quarterback as he entered his first of two stints with the Cleveland Browns. Injuries hampered his ability to make the team by Week 1. Eventually, once quarterback Josh McCown went down with a season-ending collarbone injury, Pryor was finally given a guaranteed opportunity to play wide receiver. Although he only caught one pass for 42 yards on eight targets in three games in 2015, his former head coach from Oakland, Hue Jackson, decided to give him a training camp roster spot.
In his current stint with the Browns, Pryor’s receiving skills might be the team’s brightest spot outside of tight end Gary Barnidge. In thirty-nine pre-season snaps alone, he has caught three passes for 107 yards and one touchdown. Obviously, the defenses he is facing are bland by nature as the opposing coaches running them fear giving other teams hints to annihilate them. Still, at the rate he is playing, Pryor could not only reach career receiving marks but break the records of the elite.
Calvin Johnson set the receiving yardage record in 2012 with 1,964, 116 yards more than the record Jerry Rice once held in 1995. If he plays the same percentage of snaps as Travis Benjamin did for the Browns last season (77.6 percent) while the Browns play the league average of 64.4 snaps, at his preseason rate, he will not only be the first receiver to ever catch 2000 yards but 2100 with 2179.
Granted, reaching that total would require him to receive an unrealistic 35.7 yards per catch, his current preseason average. Regardless, breaking the receiving record should not be ruled out as records have been reached or broken by the least expected of players. In 1948, an unknown rookie fifth-round defensive back/halfback named Dan Sandifer picked off a then record of thirteen passes, a milestone broken by one interception four years later by Hall of Famer Night Train Lane.
Pryor still has the third preseason game to convince us on his stardom as preseason can invoke the appearance of fake competition. Except, when it also helps us discover the skills of Russell Wilson, Tony Romo, Victor Cruz, Devonta Freeman, Kelvin Benjamin, Allen Hurns, Danny Woodhead, Giovani Bernard, and Derek Carr, it is not worth ignoring, especially as they, like Pryor possibly, became their team’s newest stars.