It’s been almost six years since former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor played a meaningful game in that old stadium, but he returned there last night with the Cleveland Browns, this time as a wide receiver, to participate in their Orange and Brown scrimmage, a night after the Steelers’ own Friday Night Lights practice.
And for the first time perhaps since then, Pryor shined, according to the variety of media reports who covered the event. With rookie first-round pick Corey Coleman and recently reinstated former All-Pro Josh Gordon sitting out the event with minor injuries, he was featured, and featured often.
Among his several touches in the game were two touchdown receptions, including a 75-yard pass for a score to end the event, and he has since had all the local media buzzing about what sort of role he might play for the Browns this season—anywhere from starting at the beginning of the year to missing the 53-man roster altogether.
To be sure, it may not be that his roster spot is secure, with Coleman, Andrew Hawkins, and Taylor Gabriel either high draft picks or their remaining experienced players. They also drafted three other wide receivers in addition to Coleman in the draft, lest we forget, and Gordon will join them after a four-game suspension.
But the buzz around Pryor seems to be a genuine one that expects him to fulfill his potential a season after finally relenting to fully committing himself to the wide receiver position, a fact that his new and former head coach Hue Jackson, talked about after the practice.
“Remember, I drafted him with Al Davis when he came out to Oakland”, he told reporters. “He couldn’t do any football for six weeks, and he wanted to be a quarterback. That’s what he really believed he was. I’ll never forget last year when he was with me in Cincinnati for a little while and he wanted to be a quarterback”.
The then-Bengals’ offensive coordinator conceded that the team let him go because Jackson didn’t have the confidence to ask him to switch positions at the time, but he told reporters that he had a friend of Pryor’s suggest the change to him during the offseason.
“I think we see the fruit of his hard work”, Jackson said after practice. “That’s what it is. He’s worked extremely hard and that’s what you see”.
For Pryor, “it’s just putting my head down and grinding”, he said. “Watching other people do great things and watching some of the greats do it and watching the film on greats”, he said, citing Randy Moss, and even his teammate, Gordon. “I like to put a little stuff in my basket and use it and do what I can do”.
While the Browns may have drafted a slew of new wide receivers, the fact of the matter is that the position overall is in a period of transition, as is the quarterback position. If he can build a rapport with a quarterback, he can contribute.