BEREA — Waiting for his turn to join Cleveland’s offensive huddle, Terrelle Pryor cut an impressive figure.
With broad shoulders, long legs and speed to burn, the former Oakland quarterback stood out among Cleveland’s other wide receivers.
“He looks great in a uniform,” Browns coach Mike Pettine, who acknowledged spending some extra time watching No. 87 run routes and try to get separation from cornerbacks on Friday. “He’s a big, explosive athlete.”
No doubt, Pryor looks the part. The question is: Can he play it?
Pryor is attempting to switch positions at the game’s highest level. Unable to cut it behind center, Pryor is trying to prolong his career. It’s daunting for the 26-year-old, who knows this is his last chance to continue playing.
“It’s a tough task and something so steep it makes you want to pursue it and go harder,” said Pryor, who started 10 games in three seasons for the Raiders. “I’m asking a lot of questions, being humble, being a sponge and taking in everyone’s word.”
The former Ohio State quarterback seems to have fans on his side. A few yelled: “Let’s go Terrelle!” and “T.P.” as Pryor worked on catching and blocking drills with the Browns’ receivers group, upgraded during the offseason by signing free agents Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartline.
Pryor caught one pass during seven-on-seven drills and another when the Browns did some 11-on-11 work. Following the Browns’ first training camp practice, Pryor received some encouraging words from several veterans, including quarterback Josh McCown.
“He just came up to me and said, ‘Hey, man. You look real good. Just stay confident. You caught the ball very well. Just use your speed like you’ve been doing and everything will go well. Just keep stacking the days,’” Pryor said of McCown. “He’s a great leader, and I can relate because I played that position for five years.”
Pryor played some wide receiver in high school before switching to quarterback. He’s got a lot to learn in a short period, but Pryor said he’s willing to put in the work.
After he was traded by Oakland
to Seattle last season, Pryor was waived by the Seahawks and spent time with the Chiefs and Bengals before he was claimed by the Browns. Pryor was at a professional crossroads, facing the possibility of his career ending before he reached his physical prime.
“I’m a realist and I understand how life works and I’m not going to keep on pursuing something when I turn 30 years old and I have no chance,” he said. “So, why not use the God-given ability that I have? I believe I can do it, it’s just going to take a lot of hard work.”
While Pryor has run pass routes before, he’s never done it against elite cornerbacks. He recently spent several weeks in North Carolina working with former star wideout Randy Moss, who showed him some pointers on pass catching.
Pryor plans to use his size as an advantage.
“I just think I’m big and I don’t think a lot of those guys can run with me,” he said.
Browns Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden got his first glimpse of Pryor’s athleticism during Wednesday’s conditioning test.
“His stride length, he was running with the receivers and DBs, and he killed the whole conditioning test, so he can run, obviously,” Haden said. “It’s just seeing what his hands look like, how he comes out of his routes. … I just can’t wait to look at him and see what he does because he looks the part, for sure.”
NOTES: Browns QB Johnny Manziel had a rough start. On his first four drop-backs, Manziel was sacked twice, had a pass nearly intercepted and one batted down. Pettine wanted to reserve judgment until he watched film, but was impressed by the second-year QB’s huddle command and knowledge of Cleveland’s offense. … Rookie DT Danny Shelton said he bought his family a house in Washington after signing his contract.