Eagles trying to determine how to stop Pryor

Oakland's Terrelle Pryor ranks among the top 20 rushers in the NFL.    JEFF CHIU / Associated Press
Oakland's Terrelle Pryor ranks among the top 20 rushers in the NFL.    JEFF CHIU / Associated Press
Posted: November 02, 2013

Opposing defenses have attempted various schemes to combat Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor, a dual threat who is among the top 20 rushers in the NFL through eight weeks.

Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis said some teams are using a "spy technique," sometimes with defensive ends or defensive backs. Pryor said he has seen safeties creeping toward the line to shadow him when he roams.

The Eagles could use a safety in this role or avoid the technique altogether when they visit Oakland on Sunday. But if there's a player who makes sense as a spy, it's inside linebacker Mychal Kendricks.

"He runs a 4.47, so I guess that would be ideal for them," Pryor said in a conference call Wednesday, referring to Kendricks' time in the 40-yard dash.

Pryor conveyed that information off the top of his head, an impressive example of research about his opponent.

"He does his homework," Kendricks said. "I know what he ran, too."

Pryor said he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.35 seconds. Kendricks pointed out that his was electronically timed, and Pryor's was timed by hand.

The difference could be a tenth of a second. The bottom line is that both players are fast. Kendricks would not hint at any part of the Eagles' game plan, but he emphasized the need for the entire defense to pay attention to the former Ohio State star's mobility.

"I think everyone's going to be chasing him down," Kendricks said. "He's a good scrambler. That's a big part of our plan. We've got to get the guy down."

Eagles coach Chip Kelly said Pryor is built like a defensive end or an NBA power forward. He sprinted for a quarterback-record 93-yard run from scrimmage in Sunday's win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Although the Eagles played Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III in the season opener, it was Griffin's first game back from a major knee injury. Davis said that Pryor is the biggest running threat the team has seen this season.

Kendricks also mentioned Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith, who is a skilled rusher. But Smith does not compare to Pryor, who is averaging 7.4 yards per carry.

"The more film you watch, he makes you say 'wow' a lot of times with his escapability," Davis said. "So we've got our hands full this week with trying to keep him contained and really limit his playmaking ability, which is tough to do, because he's such a versatile athlete."

Raiders coach Dennis Allen said the team did not plan to start Pryor this season, and initially viewed Matt Flynn as the starter with a selection of plays for Pryor to run. But Pryor won the job in training camp and the preseason, and he has continued to improve. Pryor has a big arm, although he has been plagued by turnovers (seven interceptions in six games) and inconsistency.

"Just because he's a mobile quarterback and we've seen him run doesn't mean he can't pass," Kendricks said. "He's one game away from having a crazy game passing."

Davis pointed to an Oct. 6 win over the San Diego Chargers in which Pryor completed 18 of 23 passes for 221 yards and two touchdowns. Pryor rushed for only 31 yards that evening.

"He lit them up, so he's got the skill set," Davis said.

But the threat of Pryor's running will be felt throughout the defense. The pass rush cannot get too deep because Pryor can take advantage of a collapsed pocket. The defensive backs must hold their coverage longer because Pryor can extend a play. And Kendricks might need to chase Pryor, because he is the fastest linebacker preparing for the most mobile quarterback the team has seen this season.

"We've got a really good game plan," Kendricks said, "and we're going to unleash it."

Extra points

Linebacker Jake Knott (hamstring) was the only player to miss Thursday's practice. Wide receiver DeSean Jackson (ankle), punter Donnie Jones (left foot), linebacker Casey Matthews (hip), and quarterback Michael Vick (hamstring) were limited. Kelly did not sound concerned about Jackson's injury. Receiver/returner Damaris Johnson was a full participant after an ankle injury sidelined him Wednesday.


zberman@phillynews.com

@ZBerm

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