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Terrelle Pryor having difficulty ‘catching’ on in Washington, but says his ‘dominant season’ begins against Raiders

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NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone marvels at Terrelle Pryor’s transition from college quarterback to NFL wide receiver. Raiders coaches and players do and they must face off against the club’s former third round pick Sunday.

I too am amazed out how well he took to the position switch. Going from getting cut by several teams while he was clinging to the hopeless dream of being an NFL quarterback, to becoming a 1000-yard receiver is impressive.

He is also a physical specimen at 6-6, 240 pounder with 4.38 speed. With his feat and freakish build and athleticism in mind, it can be easy to let it blind you of the fact that he still has some work to do.

For instance, last season when he put up 1007 receiving yards for the Browns while seeing 140 passes thrown his way. That is the 12th most targets in the league while his 77 catches (55%) was 27th. He was also 43rd in the NFL in yards per catch (13.1) among those with at least 30 catches. His 4 receiving touchdowns was tied for 49th overall and 35th among wide receivers.

The assumption was that leaving the Browns and their terrible QB situation would solve many of the target to reception ratio problems. That may eventually happen, but thus far, there hasn’t been any evidence of it.

I asked Bill Horgan from SB Nation site Hogs Haven about how Pryor is catching on in Washington and his response was very interesting.

“Funny you should use the word “catching” in the same sentence with Terrelle Pryor, as the one thing he isn’t doing much of so far is catching the football.

“On the first play of the season, he ran down the middle of the field and just couldn’t track the ball, which fell harmlessly to the ground several yards ahead of him. Later in that game against the Eagles, a long pass hit him in the hands in the end zone, and Terrelle just dropped it. He had at least one bad drop in the Rams game last week, and – by my count – he had three drops in preseason.

“One hallmark of Redskin offense in recent years has been good hands and very few drops, so watching Terrelle’s hands of wood in the stadium for the past two months has been painful – especially after the plethora of twitter video showing him making flashy training camp catches in 7-on-7 drills.”

With what Pryor accomplished with the Browns in 2016 he was an intriguing acquisition, so much so that he was looked upon as more than just a replacement for departing receivers Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson, but an upgrade.

But while Pryor has been slow out of the gates in Washington, Garcon lit up the football world Thursday night in San Francisco to the tune of 7 catches for 142 yards. Even with Garcon catching passes from Brian Hoyer and Pryor from Pro Bowl franchise quarterback Kirk Cousins.

“Pryor and Cousins have looked out of sync,” Horgan continued, “and when Kirk has put the ball where Pryor should catch it, too often he hasn’t. Smarter guys than me have looked at film and said that he is sluggish coming out of breaks, and still lacks polish as a route runner and pass catcher.”

Thus far, Pryor is below his numbers from last season across the board. He has caught 8 passes on 15 targets (53%) for 97 yards (12.1 yards per catch) with no touchdowns. He is on pace for 776 yards this season, though you’d have to figure he will have better numbers as he and Cousins develop chemistry.

Pryor has been charged with one drop so far this season, though Horgan noted that a holding penalty wiped out what would have been a second drop in two games.

“Some of it can be blamed on Cousins, but a lot of the responsibility goes to Pryor. He has a couple of tough catches across the middle (at least one in each game), and that’s the frustrating part. His drops, in preseason and the first two weeks of the regular season, have been easy balls, well within his catch radius.

“He was lighting it up in Training Camp, and he’s held onto the ball as he’s been punished by safeties and linebackers, but then had balls just bounce off his hands when he’s had 5 or 10 yards of separation.”

Pryor recognizes he hasn’t been exactly setting the world on fire the past couple weeks, but he swears that will all change Sunday Night when he faces off against his former team with which he forced a trade after replacing him as a starter back in 2013.

While Washington and their fans have reason to share Pryor’s optimism with how ‘dominant’ a season he will have. He turned down a long term deal in Cleveland for a one-year deal in Washington, so there’s no time like the present.