Raiders OC Olson forms an opinion on Pryor

Raiders OC Olson forms an opinion on Pryor
February 13, 2013, 5:00 pm
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"We don’t really know quite yet what Terrelle Pryor can do at this level but we have a good feel for what he is athletically." -- Raiders OC Greg Olson (AP)

ALAMEDA -- The last time we checked in with new Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson -- on Jan. 22, during Senior Bowl week in Mobile, Ala. -- he had yet to watch much tape of the intriguing Terrelle Pryor.

Three weeks and a day later, Olson was among the four new Raiders assistants introduced at the team facility to a handful of reporters who regularly cover the team.

Not much had changed in Olson's thought process -- after all, the Raiders have only 37 players currently under contract -- but he did have a chance to not only watch Pryor's tapes, but meet him, as well as starter Carson Palmer, and form an opinion…or three.

"Right now, where we stand at the quarterback position, certainly we’ve got a veteran player in Carson Palmer that really has a unique set of skills himself, much different than Terrelle Pryor's certainly," Olson said. "We’ll go through, and we’ll let those two compete."

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Not necessarily compete with each other to be the starter, mind you, but to compete to get better. Because remember, the Raiders are in a strange situation as Palmer is coming back from cracked ribs and a bruised lung suffered in the season's penultimate game, at Carolina, and Pryor showed promise in the finale at San Diego.

But there is no doubt Palmer, who is due to make a base salary of $13 million and carry a cap number of $15.335 million in 2013 after re-structuring his contract last year to play for the vet minimum base salary of $825,000, is atop the depth chart. And yet, the Raiders no doubt would like him to take a pay cut. But how do you, in good faith, ask a guy you pump up all offseason as your starter to take a cut in pay and risk alienating him to the point of having to cut him and start anew with an unproven Pryor?

It is a delicate dance.

"I like the ceiling of Terrelle Pryor and where we think he can get to, but his skill set is completely different than Carson’s, so we go forward with the idea (of) we know what Carson Palmer is," Olson said. "He’s played in the league a number of years. We know what he can do.

"We don’t really know quite yet what Terrelle Pryor can do at this level but we have a good feel for what he is athletically, so there will be packages for both of them to allow them to compete and we’ll just be ready in either direction. Again, with this league, in terms of injuries and different scenarios that can happen throughout the league you’ve got to be ready to tailor your offense to whoever that player might be that’s pulling the trigger. We’ll certainly have a package to go for Terrelle Pryor and be ready to go in that direction if that’s the direction that we see fit."

So no, the Raiders' QB job is not "open," per se.

"You never know what's going to happen in the upcoming month in terms of contracts and whatnot," Olson said. "I'll let you know that when we get to the day that we can get out on the field and start practicing."

Olson, who reiterated his desire to tailor his offense to the personnel at his disposal, said he was not opposed to using two quarterbacks in a game, though.

"I just think you have to have a package (for the second QB)," he said. "And again, if he's got a unique set up skills that maybe is different or better than some of the other 10 players that you have or 11 players that you have on the field, if he's not playing the quarterback position, does he have a set of skills that might be as good or better than someone else there?

"So, I just think once we get out and get a chance to see Terrelle, and certainly have seen him in college, and he was an explosive player in college, and I know that, I just think it's important that as a coach you're willing to adapt and be flexible and be able and try to put a player like him, that may be an explosive player, on the field for you."

The evaluation of Pryor, meanwhile, will continue.

"We know what kind of an athlete he is," Olson said. "We need to find out what kind of decision maker he is, and we need to find out if he's a guy that can also sit in the pocket and deliver the ball from Point A to Point B accurately and on time and making the right decisions. That above all else becomes most important.

"Can he make good decisions and is he accurate as a passer?"