Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor has been one of the biggest stories in the first half of the NFL season. Despite his vast improvement, he knows there's a lot of work to do before establishing himself as a face of the franchise.
He's using a cautionary tale about Tim Tebow from quarterback tutor/former USC pitching coach Tom House as motivation. House also worked with Tebow, a notoriously poor passer, but wasn't able to get the popular Florida product to revert from his natural tendencies in the heat of battle.
Paul Gutierrez of ESPN passed along the anecdote from the Raiders' breakout star, who also said he's hoping to avoid a similar fate after his recent success:
"Tebow looked great, he was throwing the ball great, wasn't missing anything. Then they said he went to [training] camp, and when he went back, he reverted back to himself because [that's] when the bullets are flying at you."
New England cut Tebow before the regular season, and he is currently out of work. As such, Pryor said he worried about a similar regression.
"I hope when I get the rushers, people are rushing me, I hope I don't go back to the old thing," Pryor recalled himself thinking.
Pryor faced similar questions about consistency and accuracy coming out of Ohio State. He completed just a shade over 60 percent of his throws against college defenses over three years.
In turn, his only NFL action during the 2011 season actually came on a trick play as a wide receiver. The Raiders knew he had explosive playmaking ability but were struggling to figure out ways to work him into the offense.
He was finally given a chance to play quarterback last season and the early returns weren't promising. In limited action, he completed less than 47 percent of his attempts and didn't have a run longer than nine yards.
One year later, he looks like an entirely different player.
Through four games as a starter, his completion rate has climbed to near 70 percent, he's accounted for four touchdowns and he looks far more confident scrambling out of the pocket to make plays with his legs.
Pryor must now prove the strides he's made are legitimate and not just short-term success, which Tebow enjoyed earlier in his NFL career. Defenses are going to start testing him in every way possible, and he cannot afford to regress if he wants to keep the starting job.
His next test comes against a stout Kansas City Chiefs defense Sunday.