ALAMEDA — Terrelle Pryor will start at quarterback for the Raiders on Sunday, replacing Matt McGloin for the final regular-season game against the Denver Broncos.
Coach Dennis Allen made the announcement at the end of his news conference Monday, saying it was “part of the plan” that apparently took shape when Pryor recovered from an injury to his right knee in late November.
“It's been a while since we've gotten an opportunity to see Terrelle in a game and I want to get him in the game and get another opportunity to evaluate him,” Allen said. “We all get frustrated when we're not playing, but (Pryor has) done a good job with that and he's going to get another opportunity.”
Pryor was the leading rusher among quarterbacks in the NFL when he suffered a knee sprain in early November. However, he has thrown only five touchdowns with 11 interceptions and has a passer rating of just 66.0.
When asked why he was making the move now, Allen emphasized that he was not benching McGloin and that it is simply another chance for the Raiders (4-11) to take another look at Pryor.
Whether the decision was Allen's or whether it came at the urging from owner Mark Davis remains unclear.
Allen has been a strong supporter of McGloin's since early in training camp and has repeatedly talked glowingly about the former Penn State star.
Even after making the switch back to Pryor, Allen made it clear he believes McGloin will be in the mix for the job next season. McGloin has thrown more touchdowns (eight) and fewer interceptions (eight) than Pryor but has also completed a lower percentage of passes than his counterpart.
“I liked a lot of things that I saw in Matt,” Allen said. “He wasn't quite as sharp as he had been earlier in a couple of the earlier games, but I've been pleased with what I've seen out of [McGloin] from the first moment he walked on campus here. I think we have a guy that can be in our plans for the future and I'm glad he's on this football team.”
It's been a tricky road back into the starting lineup for Pryor.
He was hurt during Oakland's 49-20 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Nov. 3 then aggravated the injury the following week against the New York Giants.
After that game, Pryor told reporters his knee had been bothering him — a statement he later regretted making because, in his words, it sounded like an excuse.
That opened the door for McGloin, who threw three touchdowns without an interception in his first NFL start against the Houston Texans on No. 17.
Oakland's offense has made only modest improvements since then and the team has lost its past five games with McGloin as the starter.
In the past two games, the undrafted rookie quarterback threw six interceptions and lost two fumbles. McGloin passed for just 206 yards and committed two turnovers during Sunday's 26-13 loss to the San Diego Chargers.
Allen, however, declined to say whether Pryor will play the entire game against the Denver Broncos or if McGloin will be rotated in.
That was the pattern the Raiders used against the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs, only in reverse with McGloin starting and Pryor coming off the bench.
“We'll see,” Allen said. “He's going to be the starter. I informed both of those guys this morning and we'll go from there. We want to get another opportunity to see, and we've said for a while now that we want to be able to evaluate Terrelle so here's an opportunity to go in and do that.”
Oakland went 3-5 in the eight games Pryor started before getting hurt. He has made only a few cameo appearances since then, but did not play against San Diego on Sunday.
Allen gave players the day off Monday, so neither Pryor nor McGloin could be reached for comment. Two weeks ago, however, Pryor said he wasn't going to get caught up in a quarterback controversy.
“The only thing I can do is control what I can control and just keep getting better,” he said on Dec. 10, two days after a 37-27 loss to the Jets. “At the end of the day that's all I can control. That's where we're at.”