After Historic Performance on Sunday, Terrelle Pryor Still Has a Huge Chip on His Shoulder


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  • Erik Drost, Flick CC

Terrelle Pryor had himself a day on Sunday. With 144 receiving yards, 35 passing yards and 21 rushing yards, Pryor became the first player since Hall of Famer Frank Gifford in 1959 to put together a statline like that.

And to think, almost exactly a year ago Pryor was waived by the Browns in favor of a then-injured Robert Turbin, who missed time before playing in just three games, gaining a scant 60 yards on 18 carries, before himself being waived that November.

Now, Pryor is one of the Browns' starting wideouts and on Sunday lined up as the top receiver after Corey Coleman's broken hand left him sidelined. Not bad work from a guy who announced only last summer that he'd be switching positions, an almost unheard of move for someone who'd already spent four seasons in the league as a quarterback.

But here he was almost single-handedly carrying the Browns to victory and gaining praise from some of the all-time greats at the position in the aftermath.

Carter wasn't the only one.

"I heard from the people that really support me a lot," Pryor said during a break from workouts on Tuesday. "Randy Moss, Charles Woodson, my route coach Tim Cortez. I played with Charles [Woodson] before so he knows my work ethic, and I learned a lot from Randy Moss, he taught me everything I know besides my coaches here."

Moss was instrumental in Pryor's position change. Pryor hooked up with him through Antonio Brown, who was holding a weeklong camp the week after Pryor made his announcement last summer. 

"They were cutting me for bums at quarterback, guys with no reason to be on the team over me," Pryor said about the switch. "At the end of the day I know what it is, it's a lot of politics. So I knew I was playing the politics game and it wasn't working out in my favor so I might as well try to do something different.

"[Randy's the greatest], the greatest of all time," Pryor said. "I stayed down there for a week last year, then I flew down and spent three weeks in North Carolina with him, and ever since then I flew down there and learned."

It was no small undertaking, and one that even Moss estimated would take two or three seasons.

"I think that he was a little discouraged coming out, because there were so many things that he had to be able to somewhat perfect," Moss told the Sporting News last September. "I just told him, 'You're not going to learn everything in two to three months, you know?' It’ll probably take him about two offseasons, maybe three for him to really get things down pat, for him to really hone in on the skills that really maintain year in and year out." 

One year ago, no one besides the Browns wanted to take a chance on that experiment or process, sure that Pryor wasn't ready, sure that if he were to be ready one day, it wouldn't be for years to come. But one year later — an eventful year of fits and starts, to be sure, including a hamstring injury, a single catch in 2015, and being waived —  here we are, Terrelle Pryor and Frank Gifford in the same sentence.

And unlike a year ago, were he to hit the open market now, the Browns certainly wouldn't be the only interested suitor. 

Asked how he feels now knowing that half the league would probably happily scoop him up, Pryor corrected the question before answering.

"Everybody would. Everybody," he said. "Now, after what happened last year, when I play those teams, I'm trying to make everyone pay. I want to make them look bad, because they made bad decisions, period. I should have been on somebody's team, period. I got a big chip on my shoulder. I want to embarrass them, these teams, these corners, these guys I'm battling against. It's all I want to do, to win, compete, battle my butt off, make these teams look bad. I put it in my head. I got a lot of work to do."

Next week, the Redskins. And the Browns with the second straight start by the same person at quarterback (which, sadly, is actually news: the Browns haven't had the same person under center in back to back games since Johnny Manziel in weeks 14 and 15 of the 2015 season) and a good chance of Pryor being behind center at some point in some package, if not this week, then at some point again during the season.

"It's just doing what your coaches ask you to do, that's all that matters," Pryor said. (He doesn't seem to quite enjoy talking about playing quarterback, which is something you might have noticed during interviews.) "Just try to get the job done and that's to win games. If that's playing quarterback or receiver or running the ball, I'm all for it, it's all to win the game and bring a win home to the city of Cleveland."

That win hasn't come yet in 2016. And Pryor seemed to wear Sunday's loss especially hard.

"I don't like losing, man," Pryor said. "It doesn't matter what I'm doing, whether it's football or playing with my son, me and him battling. That's why we compete. We compete to win games; you don't get comfortable with losing. I think the whole standard for us is a lot higher. I try to hold guys I'm in communication with to a high standard. You hope it's going to rub off on everyone — you give the best of your ability all the time."

Not only has a win not come yet this season, but plenty expect that not many, if any, will come the rest of the year. The question then becomes if that high standard for all 53 guys on the roster lasts through 16 games, if Hue Jackson can keep the locker room together, if the locker room can keep itself together.

"Hue instills that in us. He talks a lot about high standards," Pryor said, "every day of practice, no matter what we're doing. He wants to win. You can see it. It's a burning desire. It's very, very important to him, and he's trying to instill that in us. We're known as the Browns of the past. We're known for losing, for not having a chance. But this year we've realistically had a chance to be 3-0 instead of 0-3. A snap goes over a head. We're up by 18 points in a game we should have won. And then this week with damn three seconds left... We've just got to finish. When we learn to finish, our record will show that."

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