It’s probably best that Terrelle Pryor doesn't play in Thursday night’s preseason game against his old team at FedEx Field. After what went down at this week’s joint practices between the Jets and Redskins, the wide receiver could only mutter to Washington beat reporters that all he wanted to do was get out of town.
He made his feelings known in more colorful terms, but you get the idea. After going against his former teammates at the Redskins’ training camp in Richmond, Virginia. Pryor was sufficiently taunted by Washington’s defensive backs – safety D.J. Swearinger even made as if he was going to punch Pryor – to want no part of this action any longer.
Throw in Todd Bowles’ uncharacteristic verbal jab at Pryor, and it’s been a positively miserable week for the 29-year-old receiver.
Pryor was clearly not the most popular player in the Redskins’ locker room last season, and the players he left behind were only too happy to give him the business this week. Pryor bet on himself and lost last year, signing a one-year, $8-million deal in Washington but catching only 20 passes for 240 yards and a touchdown. He suffered an early-season foot injury, wound up playing just nine games, underwent ankle surgery in November, and wasn’t asked back.
He’s now testing the Jets’ patience, especially Bowles'. A coach who rarely calls out his players publicly did just that on Tuesday, when he suggested that Pryor “should keep his mouth shut and leave the injuries to me.” Bowles was upset Pryor revealed that he had additional surgery on his injured ankle.
“Terrelle doesn’t need to be descriptive,” Bowles said.
Bowles has a strict policy of players not revealing the extent of their injuries, which is typical of many coaches. That doesn’t make it right, of course, because why shouldn’t a player be able to talk about his own body if he chooses? It’s natural for fans to wonder how a player is doing, so why can’t he just say so without incurring the wrath – and a fine – of the organization?
Be that as it may, Pryor has his work cut out trying to make it all the way back and become a productive player once more. An incredibly gifted athlete who once was one of the best college quarterbacks in the country, Pryor’s legacy is both complicated and disappointing.
He was caught up in a scandal at Ohio State in which he was accused of selling memorabilia, and a five-game suspension to begin the 2011 season prompted him to withdraw from the school and join the NFL. The Raiders took him in the third round of the supplemental draft and projected him as a quarterback, but Pryor failed to make the transition and left the Raiders after three seasons.
The Browns saw him as a wide receiver, and Pryor had a breakout season in 2016 with 77 catches for 1,077 yards and four touchdowns. At 6-4, 228 pounds with 4.38 speed, he proved to be a matchup nightmare.
He didn’t get the kind of big-time contract offers he’d hoped for and settled for the one-year deal in Washington. Injuries ruined that season, and the Jets then took a flier with a one-year, $4.5-million deal, although it’s not fully guaranteed.
There’s certainly room on this roster for a big-time playmaking receiver, and Pryor has the skills to be that guy. But there’s more to being a productive player than talent alone, and Pryor needs to show Bowles he’s a reliable teammate.
The coach doesn’t seem happy with what he’s seen.