Pryor to have role this week for Raiders

Pryor to have role this week for Raiders

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) After spending most of the season on the bench, Terrelle Pryor has been playing a key role this week for the Oakland Raiders by impersonating Cam Newton in practice.

Pryor could have an even higher-profile role come game time Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. Offensive coordinator Greg Knapp says Pryor will get on the field in certain specialty packages for the Raiders (4-10).

Pryor made his season debut last week, handing the ball off twice and throwing one incomplete pass as the coaching staff wanted to give him an entire series. The next step is using him in specific situations that can take advantage of his athleticism at quarterback.

``You'll see him a little bit on third downs, you'll see him maybe in the red zone, try to create a different look for the defense to contend with,'' Knapp said. ``It won't be so much the structure of last week, where he had a series, which we thought was fair to him. ... We're going to try to use some of his athletic ability this week.''

With more and more teams turning to dual-threat quarterbacks like Newton, Washington's Robert Griffin III or San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick, Pryor's athleticism has been tantalizing for Raiders fans looking for any kind of bright spot to a disappointing season.

As a star at Ohio State, Pryor showed many of the same skills those other young quarterbacks are displaying. He just wants the opportunity to prove he can do what they're doing in the NFL.

``Right now I don't want to compare myself to Kaepernick or Cam or any of those guys because them guys and Griffin have proved it,'' he said. ``I haven't proved anything. I can't really say I'd be like them. I don't know what I'm going to be like because I haven't even played yet.''

Pryor is using those skills right now on the scout team to help the Raiders prepare for Newton. Oakland has struggled most of the season defensively and now has to deal with a new kind of challenge. A running quarterback like Newton can beat teams with his arm, as a scrambler or on designed runs out of the read-option.

``He creates a lot of other issues that you have to worry about,'' coach Dennis Allen said. ``You have to worry about him in the passing game just scrambling around and keeping the play alive. Obviously, they use him in a lot of different ways in the running game also. He presents some unique challenges.''

In a league with more and more running threats at quarterback, Newton still is one of the most dangerous. He leads Carolina with 647 yards rushing and is averaging 6 yards per carry - trailing only Griffin for most by a quarterback.

He leads all quarterbacks with seven touchdowns rushing - more than twice as many as Oakland's team total of three - and has rushed for 1,353 yards and 21 touchdowns in two seasons in the NFL.

``I've dealt with scrambling quarterbacks before but nothing like Cam Newton,'' Raiders linebacker Miles Burris said. ``He's kind of a breed of his own. A lot of new quarterbacks nowadays, like RG3 and those guys, running around, they can threaten your defense in a lot of different ways. So, we got to go out there and just prepare the best we can. That's all we can do every week. Just fly around to the ball and good things happen if you work hard.''

Oakland hasn't had to deal with many running quarterbacks this season as the schedule has been filled with more traditional dropback passers Peyton Manning, Matt Ryan, Philip Rivers, Joe Flacco and Drew Brees.

The Raiders haven't allowed any quarterback to run for more than 35 yards, which Matt Cassel did back in October for Kansas City. In all, Oakland has allowed opposing quarterbacks to run for 143 yards on 41 carries, the longest a 19-yarder by Chase Daniel late in a blowout loss last month to New Orleans. Taking out 16 kneeldowns by the opponent and quarterbacks are averaging 6.6 yards per carry against the Raiders.

Oakland last faced a running quarterback more than a year ago and had trouble in a couple of those games. Christian Ponder scrambled his way to 71 yards on five runs for Minnesota. But Newton also has designed runs like Tim Tebow did a year ago for Denver; Tebow ran right through Oakland in his one start, gaining 113 yards on 13 carries.

The Raiders will dedicate a defender on certain plays just to track Newton.

``There's times in a game where if you don't have guys tracking him all the time, you can get in positions where he can hurt you,'' defensive coordinator Jason Tarver said. ``He's very good in the red zone. That's a situation where you have to have guys responsible for him.''

NOTES: DT Richard Seymour missed practice again with a hamstring injury and appears likely to miss his seventh straight game. Seymour is still tied for second on the team with three sacks. ... S Tyvon Branch also sat out with an ankle injury, but still could play Sunday.

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Will lack of conditioning lead to Richardson's downfall with Ravens?

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Will lack of conditioning lead to Richardson's downfall with Ravens?

Will running back Trent Richardson’s lack of conditioning be his downfall with the Ravens?

Richardson missed the first week of OTA’s with a hamstring issue, which was not the kind of early impression he wanted to make. Some injuries are unavoidable. But conditioning has been an issue for Richardson throughout his brief and so far undistinguished NFL career.

Entering the NFL as the No. 3 overall pick with the Browns in 2012, Richardson has disappointed in Cleveland and Indianapolis, and spent 2015 out of the league after the Raiders cut him before the season. When the Ravens signed Richardson in April, he knew it might be his last NFL chance. However, Ravens coach John Harbaugh wants to see even more commitment from Richardson when it comes to staying in shape.

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“Trent just needs to get healthy,” Harbaugh said after the first week of OTA’s. “I think the workload and the amount of work it takes to be a world class conditioned athlete is something that he’s working on right now. That’s what he needs to understand and that’s where he needs to get himself. When he gets himself there, he’s got talent. It will be fun. I’m very certain he’ll get there and when he does we’ll be able to evaluate him.”

The Ravens don’t have to wait on Richardson. Their running back competition is already intense, with Justin Forsett, Buck Allen, Kenneth Dixon, Lorenzo Taliaferro, and Terrance West all fighting for carries and roles.

Whether Richardson even threatens to make the team remains to be seen. His bigger priority is improving his conditioning, and getting back on the field.

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In latest comeback bid, Ravens TE Dennis Pitta's confidence not a problem

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In latest comeback bid, Ravens TE Dennis Pitta's confidence not a problem

Not everyone close to Dennis Pitta was immediately sold on his second NFL comeback attempt. Will his twice-fractured hip hold up? How much is Pitta risking his long-term health?

Pitta has pondered those questions for months. But after the first week of OTA’s, the Ravens’ 30-year-old tight end remained confident he had made the right decision.

“I had to convince a few people, and I’m thankful for those who have been in my corner all along and had my best interests in mind,” Pitta said. “Like I’ve said before, I know my situation better than anyone else, and I’m confident in the decision I made to come back, and certainly there were people who wanted to make sure that I was confident in that decision. I have a great support team behind me, and we all feel good about this move.”

Pitta first fractured his hip during training camp in 2013, then again on a non-contact play against the Browns in 2014. However, Pitta says he doesn’t think about his right hip when he’s on the field. He’s also not lowering his expectations, despite not playing at all in 2015, and not playing a full season since 2012.

Pitta was one of quarterback Joe Flacco’s favorite targets, catching 61 passes for 669 yards during the 2012 regular season, then adding 14 catches for 163 yards and three touchdowns during the Ravens’ playoff run to a Super Bowl title.

Asked if he could return that level of play, Pitta suggested, “Why not?”

“No, my expectations haven’t changed from four years ago, to two years ago, to now,” Pitta said. “My level of expectation is extremely high going into this year. Like I said, I feel confident in how I can run, how I can move, how I can play and it’s just a matter of getting those reps back to where I’m confident in doing all of that. So, yes, expectations personally are very high.”

Pitta obviously wasn’t ready to end his career. If he is on the 53-man roster Week 1, it will be a terrific comeback story.

Mike Tomlin, Antonio Brown go to Penguins playoff game

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Mike Tomlin, Antonio Brown go to Penguins playoff game

If you didn't the the Pittsburgh Steelers enough already, this ought to help. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin and receiver Antonio Brown decided to take in some hockey on Thursday and unfortunately, they were cheering for the local team.

On the one hand, what do you expect? They play for the Pittsburgh Steelers so it's no surprise to see them cheering for the hometown team. On the other hand, the Steelers are the team Ravens fans all love to hate so to see them supporting the chief rivals of the Washington Capitals, that stings.

Just one more reason to hate the Steelers this football season.

RELATED: SEAN PAYTON SAYS RAVENS LOSING WEEK OF OTAS ISN'T THAT BIG OF A DEAL