PHILADELPHIA — Helpless on the Washington sideline, Terrelle Pryor was reduced to a very expensive booster.
Pryor was signed to become the Redskins’ No. 1 receiver.
The free-agent receiver so far has simply been an $8 million bust in burgundy.
“I was on the sideline really just cheering my teammates on,” Pryor said. “Just trying to be the best teammate I could be on the sideline and get guys pumped up. Whatever I could do on the sideline.”
Whatever he did, it was more productive than anything he did on the field.
Pryor was benched to start the game and caught just two passes in an ugly 34-24 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night.
Pryor, the free agent receiver from Cleveland who seemed like a receiver on the rise when he signed with the Redskins, saw a season teetering on disappointment slide into a full-blown disaster.
Just in case Pryor didn’t get the message when he was benched for Josh Doctson, coach Jay Gruden gave a clear signal who Kirk Cousins’ top target is this season:
“We drafted Josh to be the No. 1 guy,” Gruden said.
Doctson, Washington’s first-round pick in the 2016 draft, had only three catches for 39 yards. Sure, the Redskins didn’t make him a first-round pick so he could sit on the bench. But if there’s some way to play Doctson and Pryor in the same formation and watch them chase 1,000 yards receiving, Gruden hasn’t drawn up the formula.
Or maybe not.
Perhaps most telling that Pryor is simply an afterthought in the offence came when Cousins was pressed on the overall ineffective production from the receiving corps.
Cousins said the all the receivers were talented, and reeled off Jamison Crowder, Doctson and Ryan Grant.
“We do believe there are guys who can play,” Cousins said.
He wasn’t finished.
He mentioned Vernon Davis, Jordan Reed and Chris Thompson.
With his mouth or his arm, Cousins refused to make Pryor a target.
“As long as we’re moving the football, I don’t care who’s doing it,” Cousins said.
Without Pryor’s expected production, the Redskins have yet to have a receiver reach 100 yards receiving this season. Thompson, a running back, had been their leading receiver and he had five more catches for 26 yards and a touchdown. Reed went 8-for-64 with two scores.
Pryor’s 1,007 receiving yards with Cleveland ranked 22nd in the NFL last season, and his 77 catches were 27th, stats accumulated despite playing with five quarterbacks on a team that went 1-15.
He was supposed to help replace DeSean Jackson (Tampa Bay) and Pierre Garcon (San Francisco), 1,000 yard receivers the Redskins let walk as free agents. At this pace, they’ll be in no rush to bring back Pryor for a second season.
“We believe in Coach,” Pryor said. “You’re not going to see me angry.”
The 28-year-old Pryor refused to rip Gruden and said of Doctson, “Josh is my guy.”
The Redskins could use a few more guys willing to become The Man in the offence.
They also need a few more healthy bodies: tackle Trent Williams (knee), corner Fabian Moreau (hamstring), guard Brandon Scherff (knee) and linebacker Preston Smith (groin) were hurt.
The Redskins are set to enter the rugged part of their schedule, hosting the defending NFC East champion Cowboys (3-3) next weekend, before playing three consecutive teams who have winning records (at Seattle, Minnesota, at New Orleans).
Prodded on his relationship with Pryor, Cousins said the best could yet be ahead.
“I think it’s a work in progress,” Cousins said. “I don’t want to write a narrative until we have a full sample size of the season. There’s no reason why he can’t have a very strong 10 games here and really finish strong this season.”