Terrelle Pryor as a Buckeye.
Even before he put on No. 3 for this weekend's rookie minicamp at Paul Brown Stadium, Terrelle Pryor always had a connection to the Bengals.
It started back in 2008 when he and Carson Palmer were the two best quarterbacks in Ohio and it was rekindled in 2011 and 2012 when they were teammates in Oakland, where Palmer would bring his wife, dog, and wine over to Pryor's townhouse to talk life and quarterbacking.
"I watched him when he was here. He had that didn't-care mindset. He'd drop back and throw that ball and if you weren't there, it was on you," Pryor recalled before he started his tryout in Friday's practice. "Just a great guy. I just gave myself up. 'I want to learn from you because you're so great.' He really taught me the outside business in the league and how it works. Especially when he was there and the new regime came in after Hue (Jackson) was gone. He pretty much told how guys in the league want their own guys."
Now Pryor is living what Palmer taught him. Jackson, who drafted Pryor in the third round of the supplemental draft during his one year as head coach of the Raiders in 2011, is in his second year as the Bengals offensive coordinator and he wasted no time. The Chiefs cut Pryor earlier this week and here he is and the plan is if he looks how they think he'll look they'll sign him Sunday afternoon after the camp.
That would mean the man who carried Ohio State for three years at turn of the decade is going to be one of four quarterbacks with starter Andy Dalton and backup candidates AJ McCarron and Josh Johnson. The best guess is that Pryor would be battling Johnson for the third spot, but let Jackson play it out.
First, Pryor has to play well this weekend.
"I think at the end of the day, he's in my corner because he knows me. He drafted me. He wanted me," Pryor said of Jackson. "But at the same time I have to be on the field and show coach (Marvin) Lewis, the boss, that I can run this offense and help him win. I can fit in along with Andy and help Andy along and the other guys who are quarterbacks here. That's the main focus you got to show, prove and go out there and have fun, man."
It's been a rough road for Pryor since Columbus. He hasn't been able to get the same kind of rapport with a coach since Jackson got fired after his first season.
"He's a hell of a teacher. Guy can teach," Pryor said. "I was just talking about another fellow quarterback that is here and he said, 'Man, I never learned an offense this easy, the way he teaches it.' I laugh at some of his remarks because it brings me back to when I was with him. He's a funny guy and just like yesterday I am hearing some of his funny remarks. It's always good to be with Hue."
Pryor has had trouble getting comfortable in a locker room since the Raiders let him go after he went 3-6 for nine of his total 10 NFL starts in 2013. He said something was up in
"I just think it comes down to the relationship with the coaches," Pryor said. "As a quarterback, I don't feel like I ever had a relationship with any of my coaches I've had since college besides when I was with Hue the first time, but we had Carson. So I think it's huge. You have to have a relationship and a fit with the OC and you have to be able to talk to him on any level and he'll understand you and you understand him. There's a far road ahead of that."
Pryor gets the sense that other quarterbacks view him as a threat and stay away he's not sure why. In Kansas City, he said he didn't click with the coaches.
"Every single day, whether it's an older woman walking by and drops bags, or anything, I go to Children's, I went to Children's in KC for months straight, every Monday. It's not about my heart," Pryor said. " It's not questioning, do I have a big heart for other people because I love people. I love children. Anybody that I can help or anybody that is down and I can lighten their day, I'm just myself. I can't help if I bring a threat or whatever the case may be. I can't help that. All I can help is that I'm going to be a great guy to you, I'm going to talk to you, you talk to me, we'll be great."
All four quarterbacks have spent part of this offseason at Dr. Tom House's quarterbacks camp at USC, but Pryor has been going the longest. He's been there three years learning throwing mechanics from the former major-league pitcher. He knows what he has to work on. At 6-6, 240 pounds and just 25 years old, the enormous physical skills that put the Buckeyes in the national title hunt every year from 2008-2010 are still on display.
But he's got that 56.3 career completion percentage.
"They understand the correlation of the body and how you throw the football. That's where I really learned how to throw the football," said Pryor of the House people who he says completely overhauled the old Ohio State thrower. "Ten times (better). I don't think that's the problem. The problem is reps. I need to get reps and I need someone who's willing to fit me in and get me some reps.
"My biggest knock was just my accuracy. They could say, 'Aw, he could throw the ball a mile, he could throw it very hard, but his accuracy is inconsistent.' And I know that. That's the main thing. If you want to move on with your craft, you have to know the negative."
Ignored by the Raiders and cut by Seattle and Kansas City, he hasn't thrown a pass in the league since 2013. He just can't wait to run around and throw the ball. And he means throw the ball. After all this talk about being a wide receiver, Pryor hopes to throw a wrench into that talk. With a spiral.
"That's all I know to play. I couldn't run a route. If I can't play quarterback, I can't play football; I'm pretty much done," Pryor said. "So I can throw the ball very good, and I mean there's multiple times when I started in Oakland and preseason games and I showed I can do that. The question -- I don't think that's anything. I think it's the niche and coaching ability of me taking in with Hue."