In the first quarter against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, Palmer was sidelined and failed to return. Leinart got the vast majority of the action in his absence. But if Palmer can’t play next week, Pryor should be the one to start under center for Oakland.
Allow me to break this down for you.
The Raiders are a rebuilding team. Rebuilding is a future-oriented direction. And the distant future is all they have to look forward to after going 4-11 through the first 16 weeks.
Week 17 means nothing to them in the long run. In fact, earning win No. 5 against the San Diego Chargers would be detrimental to Oakland’s draft position.
That all being said, Pryor should start because he’s the only quarterback on the Raiders’ roster who has the potential to maybe—just maybe—lead them somewhere in the future.
Leinart will be 30 years old next season. He was supposed to be the centerpiece of a rebuilding project six years ago. Now, he’s nothing more than a solid second stringer.
Sure, Leinart probably gives Oakland the best chance to beat the Chargers next Sunday.
But who freaking cares?!
Pryor is just 23. He’s one of the most physically gifted players in the entire NFL. Yeah, he’s raw, but throwing him to wolves for one measly game won’t stunt his growth.
If the Raiders start Pryor, it’d give them a sneak peak to what next season holds for the dual-threat QB. It’d also not only allow him to get a feel for his receivers in actual regular-season action, but face an NFL defense that wants to take his head off as well.
That’s invaluable experience Pryor can soak in and instantly adjust to this offseason.
Give the fanbase a five-day-late Christmas present and start the quarterback who at the very least has the physical ability to carry the Raiders back to relevance.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.