BEREA, Ohio--One of the bright spots in an otherwise forgetful season has been a breakout season by Terrelle Pryor.
The former quarterback-turned wide receiver entered the season as an experiment after trying to make the switch a season ago. In 2015, Pryor caught one pass for 42 yards in the season finale against the Steelers.
In 2016, Pryor is currently the tied for 23rd in the NFL in receiving yardage with 877 yards. He's tied for 25th in receptions with 67 catches. However, so far in the month of December, Pryor has caught just five passes for 22 yards. He had one reception for three yards against the Bengals on Dec. 11 and four catches for just 19 yards last week against the Bills. Pryor has had three 100-yard games this season. He caught eight passes for 144 yards against the Dolphins and had six receptions for 101 yards against the Jets. HIs last 100-yard game was a six reception 131-yard game against the Giants on Nov. 27.
Pryor is currently tied with Kevin Johnson for the sixth-most receptions by a Browns player in franchise history with 67. He needs three receptions in the final two games to move into the fourth spot in Browns history for receptions in a season, passing former Browns and current Chargers receiver Travis Benjamin and Antonio Bryant.
Benjamin had 68 receptions for 966 yards in 2015. Antonio Bryant caught 69 passes for 1,009 yards in 2005. Josh Gordon has the franchise record of 87 receptions for 1,646 yards in 2013. Johnson caught 84 passes in 2001, while Braylon Edwards caught 80 passes.
Pryor needs 123 yards to hit the 1,000 yard receiving mark, a feat accomplished just four times in Browns history.
Pryor injured his middle finger against the Bills last Sunday and there is some question whether he will be able to play this week against the Chargers. Pryor was practicing on Tuesday and wasn't showing any signs of not being able to catch the ball, while wearing gloves. Pryor said he will need surgery after the season to repair the injury near the base of his knuckle.
Hue Jackson was asked how Pryor did at practice and if he was confident that Pryor will play.
“Good. He ran around and caught the ball well," Jackson said. "It amazes me. These fingers are tricky, but I know he is taped up and practicing. He did a good job.
“Oh yeah, I do (expect him to play)," he said. "If I know Terrelle, he wants to be out there. I don’t think he would do anything to miss if he can help it so he will be out there.”
Pryor said there's no doubt he'll play as he showed the brace on his finger, which allows him to catch the ball.
"This week everything that comes my way, catch it and I will and and make big plays," Pryor said. "There are a lot of big plays to be had these next two weeks and I'm excited about that. I'm excited to play and at the end of the day, we haven't won a game yet, but our push and what's motivating us is not to have a totally losing season.
"It's important to us, important to me I'm out there," he said. "There are no excuses. I expect to catch every single ball that comes my way and I will."
The Browns have big decisions to make with Pryor. Since he was signed to just a one-year contract for the 2016 season, he is set to become an unrestricted free agent in March. With the indefinite suspension of Gordon and the injury-plagued season for rookie Corey Coleman, Pryor has moved into the Browns No. 1 receiver slot.
The Browns will likely have to re-sign Pryor before he hits free agency or like so many other soon-to-be free agents once they hit free agency, they tend to go elsewhere, not matter what they say in their rhetoric about wanting to stay with the Browns. The only other option if they cannot sign him is to franchise Pryor, but that would surely force the Browns to overpay him as he would be one of the top five paid receivers in the NFL as a franchise player.
Despite having a breakout year in his transition year, Pryor is constantly finding himself being talked about by opponents and his head coach, Hue Jackson, in a less than favorable light.
Three weeks ago against the Giants, cornerback Janoris Jenkins made derogatory comments about Pryor's play and two weeks ago, Adam "PacMan" Jones repeatedly called Pryor 'garbage' in a postgame rant. Earlier this season, Pryor called out the offensive line after the Steelers game for allowing Browns quarterbacks to be hit so many times.
“I just think it is unfortunate those things are happening,"Jackson said. "I do not think they have any place in the National Football League, especially on our team so we are going to try to get all those things to quiet down. We just want to play football, be the best football players we can be and let’s get away from all of that. Sometimes, I think some of our players think it is their prerogative – and not just our players, other [team’s] players – start to make comments, but I think we need to settle whatever differences we have on the football field and leave it at that and be pros about what we do and compete against each other and move forward.”
Against the Bengals, Pryor was seen barking at Robert Griffin III in the huddle before a play. Jackson said he believes his history with Pryor will allow him to
“I know Terrelle," Jackson said. "These are things that can be worked through and understood, but I will always take in consideration of everything, and I am sure our organization will, too, as we make these decisions as we move forward. There is a type of team we want to be and we are going to be.
"We will get these things, these antics or however you guys want to look at them slowed down because we want to do this thing right," he said. "I don’t want anybody to think that he is the root of a problem or something like that. I just think we have to redirect and channel some of his energy.”
Jackson was the head coach of the Raiders when they drafted Pryor in the third-round of the NFL Supplemental Draft. He was offensive coordinator with the Bengals last season when Pryor was brought there.
Pro Bowl Time: The NFL will announce the 2016 Pro Bowl teams Tuesday night and Jackson was asked who he felt deserved the honor. He mentioned OL Joe Thomas, DL Danny Shelton and LB Christian Kirksey.
“Yeah, I hope Joe (Thomas)," Jackson said. "Joe deserves it for what does and the way he plays. I hope Danny Shelton gets and opportunity. Probably the most improved player on our team in my opinion is Kirko (LB Christian Kirksey). What he has done this year is outstanding. Obviously, Joe, and Joe is very deserving. He is still one of the best left tackles in the league. I hope Danny Shelton gets that honor, too because he has done some really good things. He really has.”
If Thomas is voted in, it will be his 10th-straight season. He was selected in his first nine seasons, which is a feat done only by seven other players--all in the Hall of Fame. Jim Brown and Lou Groza made the Pro Bowl nine times and if Thomas wins the award, it will be a franchise record.
“Wow, to me, if I know Joe, it will be something he likes to share with his teammates because he knows he can’t do it by himself even though it is an individual award," Jackson said. "To me for him, that is who he is. Joe is a warrior. He is unbelievable. I keep saying that to you guys, and I know you guys know him pretty well, but not just as a football player but as a person. He battles. He goes out there and he gives you everything he has. He wants to win. The thing I have most admired about him is what he has done in that locker room. This team is still together because of him and what he brings to that locker room each and every week after games and before games. The guy has been here that long, and the leadership that he displays, that is what you have to have. That is what he is doing. He is leading this group and helping this group fight through a very tough time. Without him, this would not be this way. I promise you that.”
No Thomas, Paea, Telfer: The Browns started their preparation for the Chargers without OL Joe Thomas (knee), DL Stephen Paea (unknown) and TE Randall Telfer (ankle) did not practice. The Browns are not required to issue an injury report until Wednesday.
Hue not Happy with Field: The Browns practiced indoors and Jackson wasn't happy about it.
“No, we were indoors because I could get all the snow off the freaking field," he said. "I am being very honest with you. It does. It is something that I have talked to everybody within our organization about. We need to be outside. When it snows here, it is different. They can’t get all the ice off. I did, I walked out there today and walked on the field and it was rock hard, but we have to find a way.
"This is an advantage for us. In this time in the year, hopefully, in the future when we are preparing to keep playing to earn a 17th game, we need to be outside because we are going to play in those kinds of elements," he said. "It is something I talked to (Executive Vice President of Football Operations) Sashi (Brown) about today that we need to correct because we need to be outside not indoors. We are an outdoor team. We are not an indoor team.”
Browns Add Two; Lose One: The Browns signed LB James Burgess and TE J.P. Holtz and to the practice squad.
In addition, RB Terrence Magee was signed by Seattle off the Browns’ practice squad.
Burgess (6-0, 230) is a rookie out of Louisville. Originally signed by Miami as an undrafted free agent, he has spent time on the practice squads in Miami, San Diego, Baltimore and Jacksonville this season.
Holtz (6-3, 240) is a rookie out of Pittsburgh. Originally signed by the Browns as an undrafted free agent, he spent the preseason with the Browns before being waived during final roster cuts on Sept. 3.