Berea, Ohio--Hue Jackson might be on to something.
For all of the coaches that have tried to figure out how to use Terrelle Pryor, Jackson might have found the perfect role.
Using him everywhere.
With the shoulder injuries that sidelined Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown in the first two games, Jackson became creative to take some pressure off of rookie Cody Kessler, making his first NFL start. Jackson took advantage of the 6-4, 223 pound Pryor's size and 4.3-4.4 speed.
Last week, Pryor was a quarterback, a wide receiver, a running back and even a safety for one play.
Pryor responded with a day that hadn't been seen in the NFL in 52 years. He had 144 yards receiving, 35 yards passing and 21 yards rushing for a combined 200 yards. Pryor was the first NFL player to register at least three passing attempts, three rushing attempts and three receptions in the same game since Billy Kilmer did it for San Francisco in 1964.
“I have a lot of respect for football," Pryor said. "I didn’t know who they were until yesterday. For me, all that matters really is winning in Cleveland right now. I really don’t care about the stats. If it is going to help us win and we win with it, then I’ll be happy to talk, but really, the main stat we did not get as a team.
"Stats and all the other stuff and all the accolades come after, but if you win, a lot of guys are going to get accolades," he said. "The most important one is we have to get the win, get some stuff in the win column. We have yet to do that. This week, we have to be urgent and compete more than ever. I am looking forward to practice and getting better with the team."
Pryor re-iterated there is only one thing he's interested in.
“Like I said before, whatever it takes to win," Pryor said. "Whatever Hue says, I am going to do, and he is going to put us in the best position. It is all about beating the Redskins. That is what we are trying to do this week so that is the gameplan.”
Jackson said he loves Pryor's team-first attitude.
“That is what I love about him," Jackson said. "Honestly, that is what I love about all of our guys. I don’t think any man was happy with just getting close. We wanted to win the game. He did do some spectacular things. I know a lot of people are surprised by what they saw in Terrelle. I’m not. I see it every day on the practice field. I see it every day when he goes out and plays. Terrelle can do a lot of different things with a football.
"It is just having some imagination to allow him to do that and having a player that is willing to do that," Jackson said. "He obviously did some good things, but he said it. There are some things he can do better. He is still a young receiver that is emerging and getting better each and every day. We are going to keep chasing and having him be as good as he can be. One thing I do admire about him is that he is willing to do anything we ask him to do. I think that is where it starts. There are some National Football League players I have been around, and I say I want you to try this and they say, ‘I’m not doing that. This is what I do,’ but not him. That is a gift, and I’m happy he is on our team.”
Jackson said he's aware of the fact that he doesn't want to wear Pryor out. Last week, he played 95 percent of the offensive snaps.
“Absolutely because I don’t want to wear him out before," Jackson said. "It is so early in the season. Terrelle is a unique player. He has a lot of different things he can do. We will let him be who he can be. He is a starting receiver on our football team, and as I see opportunities to use him, we will, but I don’t want to overburden him. The young man will do anything for his teammates and his team and the organization so I’m excited about that.
"At the same time, you said it," he said. "We have to be very careful about overloading him and asking him to do too much too fast because he is learning and becoming one of the better receivers in this league. That is what I want him to be, and I think he deserves that opportunity.”
Jackson said he's well aware of Pryor's potential and thinks his best football is in front of him.
“A lot of people can’t (do what he does," he said. "I’ll be the first to tell you that. This relationship with me and him goes way back to 2011. There are a lot of things I know about Terrelle that maybe a lot of people don’t. I’m talking about as far as what he is really capable of doing.
"I would say to all of you that he hasn’t even scratched the surface of what he is," he said. "I think he’s growing each and every day as a football player, as a person. I just think he is getting better, and I think his best football’s still ahead of him by far. He just has to keep working like he does every day and continue to get better and stay humble and be as good as he’s been and good things will happen.”
Jackson deserves a lot of credit for seemingly finding a way to use the athleticism that Pryor has in the best way.
Interestingly enough, the Pryor's transformation might have come full circle under Jackson.
Jackson was responsible for drafting Pryor as a quarterback in the third-round of the 2011 NFL Supplemental Draft on Aug. 22, 2011. After not being the NFL's prototypical quarterback, Pryor was traded from the Raiders to the Seahawks and cut by Seattle. Signed and cut by the Chiefs and the Bengals before Pryor gave up on being a quarterback.
He came to the Browns on June 22, 2015 as a wide receiver and initially made the Browns 53-man roster, but was waived on Sept. 10, 2015 before the first game. He spent the rest of the fall trying out with teams as a receiver. The Browns re-signed him on Dec. 2, 2015 and he saw action in two games at wide receiver, catching his first and only pass of the season in the season finale against the Steelers for 42 yards.
Jackson has always believed in Pryor's ability and now finds himself as the Browns No. 1 receiver with Josh Gordon (suspended) and Corey Coleman (broken hand) not playing.
"It's impressive," Joe Thomas said. "For a guy like Terrelle, that was cut by a number of teams last year and i think people wondered if his NFL career was over, but he came in here with a chip on his shoulder with something to prove and he's proven it in a big way. He has shown that he can be a quarterback, he can be a running back, he can be a receiver, he can be do it all.
"He's a big weapon and that's a credit to Terrelle and all the hard work he has put in, but it's a credit to Hue in finding a way to put a tremendous athlete on the field where he can make a difference."
Joe Haden, who has practiced across from Pryor since training camp has been impressed with Pryor's transition from a year ago.
"You don't see an athlete like (Pryor) very often."
Kessler said that Pryor's performance spoke for itself.
“Yeah, Terrelle did a great job," Kessler said. "It is cool because he really does care about this team. The rest of the guys do, too, but for him to have so much on his plate and do so many different things and to help me out throughout the week, he is just a great team player. He is a guy that really cares about this team, and that is how the team feels. Everyone really plays for each other, and you kind of felt that out there on Sunday. He did a great job. His performance on Sunday was very impressive.”
Pryor has caught the attention of Redskins coach Jay Gruden, who was asked his thoughts on Pryor's performance against Miami last week.
Yeah, I can see it," Gruden said on a conference call. "I can see them doing a lot of different things with him. That is something we have got to be aware of – where is No. 11?Hue has great originality when it comes to drawing up plays. I know that for a fact working with him. We just have to find out where he is. He could be a receiver. They could throw him double passes, and he can be in the backfield and be a quarterback, a lot of things he can do. There is not a lot he can’t.”
Pryor is expected to draw the attention of the Redskins defense, particularly Pro Bowl cornerback Josh Norman.
Pryor, 27, is playing on a one-year contract for $1.67 million and the Browns have to make him a high priority to sign him to a multi-year contract extension or they will likely see him leave via free agency after this season.
Through the first three games, Pryor is sixth in the AFC in receiving yardage with 244 yards, averaging 17.4 yards a catch with a long of 44 yards. He is 15th in the AFC in yards from scrimmage with 265.
Jackson said Pryor still has a lot of upside.
"There are some things that he has to continue to improve on and get better at," Jackson said. "He is getting better. He will be the first to tell you there are some things that he wants to do better because the sky is the limit for the guy. The guy is big and fast and athletic. I’m not surprised by anything that he does.”
Haden Practices: DB Joe Haden was a last minute scratch last week with a groin injury and wasn't sure if he would be able to play on Sunday. Haden was participating in individual drills during open media session on Wednesday, a positive sign.
"No timetable," Haden said. "I'm just working with the training staff to try and get back."
Jackson was hopeful that Haden will be able to play.
“Very much so," Jackson said. "He was able to practice today on a limited basis. It was good to have him out there and back running around. We will see where we are as he goes through the week.”
On the Side: Players not practicing, but on the bikes with trainers were QB Robert Griffin III (shoulder), WR Corey Coleman (hand), OL Cameron Erving (lung), DB Tramon Williams (shoulder) and DB Ibraheim Campbell (hamstring). DL Carl Nassib (hand) was in the locker room with a small cast on his left hand. OLB Nate Orchard (high ankle sprain) was seen walking around with a boot on his left foot. QB Josh McCown (shoulder) was on the field with a sling on his left arm. The official injury report listed Campbell, Coleman, Erving, McCown, Nassib, Williams and OL Joe Thomas (rest) as did not practice. Limited were: RB Isaiah Crowell (knee), Haden (groin) and DL Stephen Paea (back).
Jackson was asked if there were any updates on McCown, Erving and Nassib for this week.
“Nothing yet," he said. "If there is something later on in the week, I will most definitely let you know, but I know those guys will be out this game. Hopefully, there is some encouraging news about all those guys, hopefully, later on in the week and definitely early next week.”
Reinforcements Coming in Gordon, Bryant?: After Sunday's game with the Redskins, WR Josh Gordon and DL Armonty Bryant are able to return to the practice field and resume playing in Week 5 against the Patriots.
Bailey Update: Jackson was vague about the status of OL Alvin Bailey, who was arrested earlier in the week for OVI,
“We will see," Jackson said. "Obviously, this is a league matter. Those kind of things that happen, I’m not very excited about it at all. There will be consequences for it, but we have to follow league protocol as far as that is concerned. We will do what we feel is right.”
Asked if he will start against Washington.
“You will find that out on Sunday.”