The curious lack of production from Terrelle Pryor Sr. continues to be a head-scratcher for Redskins fans, and his limited role and lack of snaps in last Sunday’s loss to the Cowboys has prompted more questions about why a receiver who was acquired to be a playmaker effectively has been phased out of the offense in recent weeks.
On Wednesday, Redskins Coach Jay Gruden provided perhaps his most expansive comments to date on the subject, saying that Pryor “was the number one guy in Cleveland, and he just hasn’t been the number one guy here yet.”
“I think there’s a possibility that could still happen with nine games left … so we just have to keep working with him and continue to work that rapport with him and Kirk Cousins,” Gruden said in a conference call with Seattle reporters. “From a statistical standpoint, I’m sure his numbers aren’t where he anticipated them being, but he’s still in the process of getting to know Kirk and getting to know this offense and how we do things around here, and it’s a learning deal.”
Talking in front of his locker Wednesday following practice, Pryor insisted he knows the offense but didn’t dispute that his relationship with Cousins is a work in progress. As a former quarterback himself, Pryor has a unique understanding of the difficulties involved in cultivating that on-field partnership.
“I could be open, or somebody could be open [and] just from a quarterback standpoint, sometimes you just got to feel comfortable with guys and understand where they’re at,” Pryor said. “Me and Kirk have been missing. I’ll be open, which is sometimes my body movement — you got to get used to that. I believe it’ll take time.”
Pryor offered another explanation for his decreased role in recent weeks: He says he’s been hampered by a bone bruise since early in the season. He said last week’s quiet afternoon actually might have allowed his foot to rest a bit.
Pryor was on the field for only 19 snaps against the Cowboys, far fewer than the other three Washington receivers Jamison Crowder (56), Josh Doctson (47) and Ryan Grant (40). This season, he has 223 yards on 18 catches. On Sunday, for the first time this season, he didn’t have a single reception.
His 18 receptions are fifth on the Redskins and his 34 targets are fourth. For comparison, through seven games a year ago with Cleveland, Pryor pulled in 35 catches and was targeted 117 times.
He insisted he’s comfortable with Gruden’s system and what’s expected of him.
“It’s just getting the feel and getting involved,” he said. “You just got to watch the game. And if you watch one of our games, you’ll see what I’m talking about.”
Against the Cowboys, he was targeted only once and has seen those targets decline from season-opener, when Cousins threw to him 11 times and he pulled down six receptions.
“It’s not the offense. It’s not about learning the offense,” he said. “It’s understanding — we have great players. Like I explained, there’s games you may get two, three, four targets. That’s it. … It’s hard. The stats kind of are inflated negatively because you’re not getting a lot of targets. It’s not really the offense. The offense is really simple.”
While certainly Redskins fans have noticed that Cousins doesn’t have the receiver options he enjoyed a year ago, outsiders are also starting to wonder why Pryor’s performance is so down compared with last season. Even before last week’s zero-catch game, Reggie Wayne of the NFL Network said Pryor’s production has been “unacceptable” and “he needs to make his presence known.”
“I don’t know what it is,” said Wayne, who played wide receiver for 14 years in the NFL and was selected to six Pro Bowls. “I don’t know if he’s on the same page as Kirk Cousins. They need to get in the film room together, after practice on the field together. They need to find a way to get on the same page because it’s not enough.”
With tight ends Jordan Reed and Niles Paul both questionable for Sunday’s game at Seattle, Cousins just might have to rely more on his wideouts, and time will tell whether Pryor is in that mix.
“He’s only been playing wide receiver for a couple of years and he’s just getting better and better,” Gruden said Wednesday. “He’s still young, he’s long, he’s fast, but he’s still developing the nuances of playing wide receiver, and he’ll get better and better.”
Said Pryor: “We got nine games. We have a lot of work to do. I’m patient. I’m not in a rush. My goals are still there.”
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