Pressure on Terrelle Pryor to perform Thursday against Oakland Raiders

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Terelle Pryor was always facing an uphill battle to make a roster spot with the Seattle Seahawks. When he was traded from the Oakland Raiders for a seventh rounder back in April, I considered the move to be nothing but gravy: Seattle gave up very little for him and expectations had to be pretty low. If he showed them something, great. If not, no biggy.

At times throughout training camp we have seen bits and pieces of brilliant play from Pryor. He seemed to be improving in working through his progression and making smart, on-target throws.

But now coming into the fourth and final pre-season game of the year, Pryor finds himself backed up against a wall and needing to show something. The first three pre-season games have not been kind to Pryor.

He did alright in the opener against the Denver Broncos, completing nine of 16 passes for 137 yards, but he did throw an interception and finish with a passer rating lower than 60. Against San Diego he regressed, completing just one of four passes. He did break off a 44-yard rush for a touchdown, though. Finally last week against the Bears he was miserable in the short time he was on the field. Pryor threw just two passes. The first one bounced a couple feet short of his intended receiver and the next one sailed directly into a defensive back’s arms.

Apparently the issue vs. Chicago was that Pryor did not think he was going to play. Here’s what he told Terry Blount of ESPN:

“I didn’t even know I was going in,” Pryor said. “I was just sitting on the bench. That’s my fault and I have to own up to that. I threw a pick, even though I didn’t know I was going in. It is what it is.”

That’s pretty much a capital offense on Pete Carroll‘s team, where being ready to compete at all times takes precedence before all other concerns.

Overall Pryor has been one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL this preseason – his total passer rating is under 30, which ranks him 111th out of 114 quarterbacks who have taken a snap. That’s simply not going to cut it to make a spot for a team as deep and talented as the Seattle Seahawks.

We know that Pryor is capable of making big plays with his legs. Anyone who can look his name up on Youtube already knew that before Seattle traded a draft pick for him. The question with Pryor has always been can he mature as a pocket passer? Thus far the answer has been no.

It won’t even be enough for Pryor to have a brilliant game on Thursday. If he rushes for three touchdowns and throws another it likely won’t be enough for him to make the final cut that will come at the end of this week. Pryor needs to play perfect, mistake-free football. He cannot throw an interception, he cannot fumble, he cannot be off target with any of his throws if he’s going to convince the front office that they should keep three quarterbacks.

The team knows what they’re getting in Russell Wilson and Tarvaris Jackson, so we will most likely see Pryor and B.J. Daniels get the majority of the snaps under center.

For fans the fourth preseason game is always the most unwatchable. Starters see very limited action. There’s almost nothing at stake for us. But for Terrelle Pryor, his performance will mean everything for his career.

As fate would have it Pryor will be playing against his former team on Thursday, and from where I’m sitting he’ll be playing for all the marbles.

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