RICHMOND — New York Jets wide receiver Terrelle Pryor had multiple highlight reel performances last year during training camp with the Washington Redskins. On Sunday, he returns to the site of those exploits when his old team welcomes his new team for joint practices.
There were high expectations for Pryor last season. He was coming off a breakout 2016 season with the Cleveland Browns, and the Redskins’ hope was that he’d continue that production while adding explosiveness to their receiving corps.
Instead, Pryor suffered through something of a lost season, playing in just nine games due to injuries and never really establishing a rapport with quarterback Kirk Cousins. He finished the year with just 20 catches for 240 yards and one touchdown. And he might have developed bad blood with his then-teammates. Take linebacker Zach Brown’s comments from earlier in the summer:
“That’s going to be something right there,” Brown said during June’s minicamp. “The boys are gonna have it out for him. We can put hands on him now.
“The boys were already hot for what he was doing last year. Try to one-hand something while you’re with the Jets, you’re gonna catch a forearm,” Brown continued. “Jay [Gruden] ain’t here to protect you anymore.”
Brown must have been referencing the team rule of no live tackling during drills when he talked of a plan to “put hands” on Pryor. This month, Pryor responded by saying his focus will simply be on practice, and added “If they take dirty shots, I’m sure we’ll handle that accordingly.”
Gruden has a different opinion on Pryor’s return, and said he has nothing but respect for his former pass catcher.
“I don’t have any ill will toward Terrelle,” Gruden said before practice Saturday. “I have a lot of respect for Terrelle as a player and as a person. I’m sure that there’s some Twitter battles going on, I hear it’s with Zach or whatever, but there won’t be an issue.”
Following Saturday’s practice, the Redskins held a team meeting to discuss expectations for sessions with the Jets. Gruden expects there to be a variety of “situational work,” including different coverages, third-down work, red-zone work, two-minute drills, 7-on-7 periods and more.
In 2015, the Redskins welcomed the Houston Texans to Richmond for joint practices that included a full-on brawl.
“It is a benefit, I think, to break up the monotony of training camp to get somebody else in here and go against somebody different, instead of doing: ‘Okay, it’s first and 10, okay, let’s go third down,’ you know what I mean, against the same people,” Gruden said. “So, it’s a great chance to see different looks, different fronts, different coverages and go against different people to see how they do things.”
Gruden highlighted the running backs and offensive line as two groups that will find value in the joint sessions. And outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan pinpointed some ways the sessions will help his position group, as well.
“It allows you to see a different kind of pass setting,” Kerrigan said. “Me, for example, I’m going against Morgan Moses everyday, so I’m seeing Morgan Moses’s sets. Now that we’re going up against the Jets, I’ll be seeing a couple different linemen’s sets, and that will allow us to see where I’m at in terms of variation and variety of moves.”
The Jets will practice with the Redskins from Sunday through Tuesday, leading up to the teams’ Thursday night matchup against each other — both teams’ second preseason game. The Redskins will then play two more games before the regular season begins on Sept. 9 in Glendale, Ariz. against the Cardinals.
Kerrigan said the only way to simulate football is by playing football. Still, he wouldn’t mind seeing those four games be reduced to three. Gruden agreed, noting that three games would be sufficient. But he did add that there are positives to be found with the length of the preseason.
“Preseason games are still beneficial in a lot of ways, situational work, going against different people, looking at young players who don’t get a lot of opportunities throughout practice,” Gruden said. “We only practice for about an hour and 45 minutes or two hours a day. That’s not a lot of reps … so, it’s a great opportunity for those guys to show what they can do, and four games gives them that opportunity.”
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