The last time Terrelle Pryor faced the Giants was in 2013. He completed 11 of 16 passes for 122 yards and ran for a touchdown as the starting quarterback of the Raiders.
This game will be vastly different.
Pryor, a record-setting passer at Ohio State whose NFL career as a quarterback never quite panned out, now is the top wide receiver for the Browns. He leads the team with 56 catches for 724 yards and four touchdowns and is among the most targeted receivers in the NFL.
Those who know him say they are not surprised by the transformation, both in terms of his position and his perspective.
“I’m not shocked that he’s doing well because he’s a talent,” said Giants running back Rashad Jennings, a teammate of Pryor’s in Oakland. “He can do things that a lot of people are not able or gifted enough to do. He’s always had talent, and it seems like he’s matching it with some work ethic because he’s having success. I’m happy for him.”
No one has ever doubted Pryor’s physical gifts. Giants coach Ben McAdoo was aware of them almost a decade ago when Pryor was one of the nation’s top college recruits out of southwestern Pennsylvania.
“He was a tremendous football player, basketball player, you name it,” McAdoo said. “Just a tremendous athlete. You see it just transferring over. It took a little time, but he’s made the transition.”
It’s certainly not something every quarterback is capable of doing.
“I think I can run routes,” Eli Manning said, “but it would not be a pretty sight if I were doing it.”
Pryor made the change to receiver last year, but it took some time for it to click.
“I remember when he first started last season and we actually released him,” Browns cornerback Joe Haden said. “He was a completely different player than I have seen when he came back this year . . . When he came back from one offseason, just to see his growth to be able to be a legitimate No. 1 receiver on a lot of NFL teams is something that I haven’t seen, so just his transformation from last season to this season is the best I have seen in a player.”
Pryor has been impressive, but those who have to cover him aren’t buying into the hype. Janoris Jenkins, the Giants’ 5-10 cornerback, likely will be asked to shadow the 6-4 receiver. He was asked if guarding Pryor will be a big challenge.
“No,” he said bluntly. “He’s another receiver. He’s just big.”
Safety Landon Collins shared that belief.
“Pryor only has some height over [Jenkins],” Collins said. “Other than that, I saw [Jenkins] play against A.J. Green, a taller receiver than him too, and he dominated. Pryor is not as fast as him, or as quick, so [Jenkins] is going to be able to beat some of his routes before he gets to them.”
Not everyone on the Giants, though, is being as dismissive of Pryor. Jennings said he’s looking forward to seeing him again.
“It wasn’t too long ago I was like: ‘I got him,’ ” the running back said, assuming a ready stance and pointing to an imaginary linebacker. “I had his back. It’ll be fun to see him.”
And, he admitted, a little strange to see him at receiver.
“That’s crazy,” Jennings said. “But he’s a rare breed in many aspects.”