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Browns' top weapon had unlikely path to success

11-23-pryor.jpg

WR Terrelle Pryor had a very unusual rise to his football success:

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – As a starting quarterback at Ohio State, Terrelle Pryor had a 31-4 record and tied the school record by throwing 57 touchdown passes.


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In 2013, Pryor started nine games for the Oakland Raiders, completed 57 percent of his passes, and threw for nine touchdowns.

The following year, he didn't have a job in the NFL.

Today, Pryor is the Cleveland Browns' leading receiver.

Has any player ever had a more unusual or unlikely ascension?

The Giants will get an up-close look at the latest incarnation of Pryor when they face the Browns Sunday in Cleveland. Ben McAdoo has long known of Pryor because they are both natives of Southwestern Pennsylvania, a region the Giants coach is fiercely proud of.

"I'm familiar with him from his high school days," McAdoo said. "He was a tremendous football player, basketball player, you name it. Just a tremendous athlete. You see it just transferring over. It took a little time but he's made the transition. I believe he is the highest-targeted player in the league (Pryor is actually fourth with 102 passes thrown his way). I can see why."

As they've prepared for the game, the Giants have been extremely enthralled with the quarterback-turned-receiver – and not just the defensive players.

"It is (impressive), man," Victor Cruz said. "To see the things that he has been doing, catching the football - and not just catching the ball; I think his route running is what you see that just pops out at you. From a guy that is just that athletic to be able to switch things over and be as efficient and as dominant as he has been in these games. It has been fun to watch and I am happy for him. I know that he hasn't had the easiest road coming into the NFL, and I am happy that he found his niche and hopefully he gets to grow in that role."

Eli Manning, speaking to Cleveland reporters on a conference call, also used the word "impressive." But he's not about to duplicate Pryor's position switch.

"I think I can run routes," the 13-year veteran said, "but it would not be a pretty sight if I were doing it."

It is when Pryor is running down the field and hauling in passes from one of Cleveland's numerous quarterbacks. Not even he – or the Browns - could have envisioned this. After his stellar college career, Pryor was selected by Oakland on the third round of the 2011 NFL Supplemental Draft. The Raiders hoped he would develop into their long-term quarterback, but he was 3-7 and threw more interceptions (12) than touchdown passes (nine) as a starter.

Unwilling to recede into oblivion like so many failed quarterbacks, Pryor remade himself as a receiver. But it took time. In April 2014, Oakland traded Pryor to Seattle, which waived him at the end training camp. After sitting out the season, Pryor was signed and cut by the Kansas City Chiefs, Cincinnati Bengals – and the Browns, who waived him on Sept. 10, 2015. Cleveland re-signed him on Dec. 2, and Pryor caught one pass in three games.

This year, he has been the Browns' leading receiver and one of the NFL's biggest surprises. Pryor has 56 catches for 724 yards and four touchdowns. He has 14 more catches than any other Cleveland player. Pryor has also rushed for 21 yards and a touchdown and because Browns coach Hue Jackson wants to use all of Pryor's skills, he has thrown nine passes, completing five.

"He has been pretty good," said cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who will likely spend a good part of his Sunday afternoon shadowing Pryor. "He is a big guy (6-4 and 223 pounds). He is tall, he is fast - it looks like his transition is going good."

"He's a very talented athlete, great player," safety Landon Collins said. "He's done great things and you expect great things out of him."

Just not this week, if the Giants have their way.

*Two years ago tonight, Odell Beckham, Jr. made the catch heard round the word, his famous leaping one-handed grab against the Dallas Cowboys. He claimed not to be aware of the anniversary until a reporter told him.

Beckham certainly didn't minimize the impact of the catch when asked about it.

"I really just think about how it changed my life forever," he said. "In a sense, it kind of put a shadow over everything else. It is a moment that happened and it was a good moment for me. I think about it in retrospect, but not really on a daily basis."

*Four Giants players missed practice today: defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (knee), offensive linemen Marshall Newhouse (knee) and Brett Jones (calf), and wide receiver Roger Lewis, Jr. (concussion). Guard Justin Pugh (knee) and wide receiver/return specialist Dwayne Harris (wrist) were limited. *Two Browns did not practice: tackle Joe Thomas (knee) and quarterback Cody Kessler (concussion).

A look at the expected starters for the Giants' Week 12 opponent

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