ALAMEDA -- The question was put to Terrelle Pryor by a student at Iron Horse Middle School in San Ramon in late March during a Raiders community visit.

Why had the two-sport recruit selected football over basketball out of high school?

The answer had nothing to do with the thrill of a touchdown pass as compared to a dunk.

"There's just something about having 10 guys looking at you, expecting you to lead them," Pryor said. "I love that."

At the time, Carson Palmer was still the quarterback, with the Raiders a few weeks away from trading him to the Arizona Cardinals and bringing in Matt Flynn.

It was a decision which would ultimately lead to Pryor becoming the starting quarterback, given Flynn's struggles and Pryor's undeniable skllls and rapid improvement.

Oakland Raiders’ starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor (2) throws against the Philadelphia Eagles in the first quarter at O.co Coliseum in Oakland,
Oakland Raiders' starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor (2) throws against the Philadelphia Eagles in the first quarter at O.co Coliseum in Oakland, Calif., on Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

Pryor, who leads the Raiders (3-5) into Sunday's game against the New York Giants (2-6) at MetLife Stadium, takes his role as a leader seriously.

When the Raiders retuned to practice this week following a 49-20 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, Pryor made sure he did so with a bounce in his step even after missing time in the fourth quarter with a knee strain.

"It's just a leadership thing," Pryor said. "Some guys may come in and be kind of sluggish and not really feeling it. ... You have to come forward and show them energy. It's about setting positive examples and getting guys to gather around and believe. We let that game slip, but let's go get the next one."


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When the Raiders signed Jeff George in 1997, then-coach Joe Bugel scoffed at the notion that the club would miss the leadership of the departed Jeff Hostetler because, "leadership is throwing touchdowns."

In the wake of the Miami Dolphins harassment story involving Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin, offensive coordinator Greg Olson pulled aside Pryor, backup Matt McGloin and practice squad quarterback Tyler Wilson to remind them being the quarterback goes beyond throwing touchdowns.

"It's important they are constantly aware that all eyes and ears in the building are on them in terms of how they're preparing," Olson said.

Wide receiver Rod Streater said Pryor often requests that receivers stay after meetings.

"He'll grab receivers and tight ends and want to work on things," Streater said. "He always brings the guys together to do extra stuff."

While Raiders coach Dennis Allen said ultimately it is the responsibility of the head coach to take care of locker room issues such as what occurred in Miami, Pryor believes the quarterback is responsible as well.

Pryor went so far as to compliment Martin for "standing up and being a man" and added, "I believe the quarterback is responsible for in-house locker room (issues) and quieting situations down. I believe he is the one that people are going to listen to."

It's a role Pryor believes extends outside of the locker room as well.

"You want to cut things off ... there are so many situations that pop up," Pryor said. "Your teammate has a drink and you say, 'Hey, maybe you should take a cab. Come take a cab with me.' Something small like that can get you so much respect from your teammate that you stopped and helped him."

Said Olson: "With Terrelle, I think it's going to be part of the growth process, but I think he embraces that and is trying to establish himself as a leader."

  • Running back Darren McFadden (hamstring), cornerback DJ Hayden (groin), tackle Matt McCants (toe), tackle Tony Pashos (hip) and safety Tyvon Branch (ankle) are out and will not travel to New Jersey.

    Phillip Adams will play in place of Hayden at nickel corner, with Chimdi Chekwa and Taiwan Jones in reserve. Rookie Menelik Watson will make his debut as a starter at right tackle.

    Center-guard Andre Gurode (knee) and linebacker Kaluka Maiava (ribs) are questionable. Listed as probable are Pryor (knee), Andre Holmes (hamstring), Rod Streater (hip) and Tracy Porter (shoulder).

    Tackle Jack Cornell will be elevated from the practice squad for depth, but no corresponding move was announced regarding the 53-man roster.

    For more on the Raiders, visit the Inside the Oakland Raiders blog at ibabuzz.com/oaklandraiders. Follow Jerry McDonald on Twitter at twitter.com/Jerrymcd.

    sunday's game

    Raiders (3-5) at New York Giants (2-6), 10 a.m. CBS