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Browns: Coming off a historic performance, Terrelle Pryor chasing greatness, victories

Terrelle Pryor’s dynamic

Terrelle Pryor’s dynamic, diverse and dominant performance last week against Miami put him in rare company and sent him scurrying to his favorite search engine.
He became the first NFL player with 120 receiving yards, 30 passing yards and 20 rushing yards in a game since Pro Football Hall of Famer Frank Gifford in 1959.
Pryor didn’t know who Gifford was before researching the all-time great whose impact continued well after his playing days. Gifford was an MVP and starred for the Giants as a defensive back, halfback and flanker, and later became a longtime broadcaster in the heyday of “Monday Night Football.”
Pryor and Gifford will be linked for a while as the Hall of Fame requested the jersey, glove and cleats Pryor wore for the Browns against the Dolphins. They were sent down I-77 on Thursday and will be displayed in a way to honor Gifford.
“It’s special,” Pryor said leading up to today’s game in Washington.
Pryor set career highs with eight catches for 144 yards in his best day since making the conversion to receiver last season. With the Browns down to third-string rookie Cody Kessler, coach Hue Jackson asked Pryor to return to his roots as a quarterback, using him for 14 snaps behind center — three completions for 35 yards and 21 rushing yards, including a 3-yard touchdown.
“I always say, before I go into a game, ‘I’m the best athlete on the field,’” he said. “And I firmly believe that. I know the abilities God has given me. So why not use God’s abilities in a different way? And that’s what I did.”
The versatile outing, which positioned the Browns for a victory if not for three missed field goals, had the stat experts going back more than 50 years in the databases. And although Pryor became the first player with three pass attempts, three rushes and three receptions since San Francisco’s Billy Kilmer in 1964, he shifted the attention to the future.
“I hope to have that a lot and I believe I can,” Pryor said. “I’m looking for the next one.”
He didn’t celebrate this one because the Browns lost to Miami to drop to 0-3. Pryor consistently makes it clear his focus is wins and he’s willing to do whatever is asked to deliver them.
“The young man will do anything for his teammates and his team and the organization so I’m excited about that,” Jackson said. “I’ll say it again: I’m not surprised by anything Terrelle does.”
Pryor’s incredible physical tools – 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, 4.4 speed – allowed him to successfully make the switch to receiver. His intelligence and understanding of the game made it possible for him to handle everything on his plate last week as he bounced between wideout and quarterback. He even played a snap as safety to defend an end-of-half Hail Mary.
“Learning quarterback, running back, receiver, it takes a lot of mental gymnastics to be able to go out there and do it the right way,” left tackle Joe Thomas said.
“Not to sound arrogant, I don’t think there are a lot of guys who can do that stuff I do,” Pryor said. “It’s just tough, it is, because there’s a lot on top of being able to throw a perfect ball and then worrying about your routes, worrying about beating guys, you know. But me, I’m a weirdo in terms of football. In the meeting rooms, I’ll stop the coach and ask questions and some weird questions and (they’ll go), ‘Wow, that was a great question.’
“I just try to prepare to the best of my ability because I owe my teammates and I’m working for the owner here, I’m working for my coaches. I owe them that to do the best I can, to be the best I can be on Sunday.”
Washington is preparing for Pryor to line up anywhere and do everything as Jackson looks for his first victory in charge of the Browns.
“Obviously, he is a great athlete and a force to be reckoned with,” coach Jay Gruden said. “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? 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 said Washington may be worrying for nothing. He twice told reporters him as quarterback wasn’t part of the game plan.
“I know for this game we don’t have any of that stuff going in,” he said.
Even if he’s not playing coy, there will be plenty of reason to focus on Pryor. He will likely be matched up with All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman.
Norman is one of the game’s best, so he should challenge Pryor, who admits he needs work in some of the finer points of receiver. He can get pinned on the sideline on go routes and needs to be stronger on contested catches.
“He hasn’t even scratched the surface of what he is,” Jackson said. “I think he’s growing each and every day as a football player, as a person. I think his best football’s still ahead of him by far.”
The matchup with Norman deserves to be watched even when the ball’s not thrown in their direction. Norman famously tangled with Giants receiver Odell Beckham last season as they traded blows throughout the game.
“I’m 6-5, 230. I am not worried about no corner talking about me,” Pryor said. “Period.”
Jackson referred to Pryor as a “hot head” like himself and said he got frustrated last week because the officials weren’t throwing flags when he felt he was interfered with. But Pryor said he’ll be able to control himself even if Norman tries to get under his skin.
“Where I’ve been and the people I’ve played against and the people I grew up with, talking’s talking,” Pryor said. “And this is not a shot at Norman or anything like that. You just go and make plays and block ’em and be physical with ’em. That’s all.
“Talking doesn’t really do nothing. I’m going to say what I’m going to say and I’m not going to hear anything you say anyway, so it doesn’t matter. I just go and compete.”
Norman isn’t just a mouth. He’s a playmaker tied for the league lead with seven passes defensed in three games.
“His athleticism, he’s awesome,” Pryor said. “He plays the ball well in the air, and the thing I like about Josh is when you watch him on film, he’s very competitive.”
Pryor will remain on center stage with rookie receiver Corey Coleman out a few more weeks with a broken hand and Josh Gordon in a rehab facility and not going to be brought back. And Pryor should be in line for a contract extension as he’s scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent following the season.
It illustrates how far he’s come so quickly.
A year ago at this time he was unemployed. The Browns cut him before the opener and he failed to catch on despite tryouts across the league.
He returned to the Browns in December and has been a different player in Year 2 as receiver.
“People that are in a position of failing, it gives you an open eye and a clear view to have tunnel vision and handle your business and keep working hard no matter what people are saying or what the situation is,” Pryor said. “It is just keep pushing forward and be an inspiration.”
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or [email protected] Like him on Facebook and follow him @scottpetrak on Twitter.

Browns writer for The Chronicle-Telegram and The Medina Gazette. Proud graduate of Northwestern University. Husband and stepdad. Avid golfer who needs to hit the range to get down to a single-digit handicap. Right about Johnny Manziel, wrong about Brandon Weeden. Contact Scott at 440-329-7253, or email and follow him on and Twitter.


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