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Raiders' Terrelle Pryor showing signs of promise

  • Terrelle Pryor became the first Raiders quarterback to rush for over 100 yards in one game when he notched 112 against the Colts in Week 1. (MARCIO JOSE SANCHEZ / Associated Press)

ALAMEDA — Could Al Davis' final draft pick wind up being one of his best?

When the Raiders took Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor in the third round of the 2011 supplemental draft, it looked like another case of the aging Raiders owner blindly swinging for the fences — a JaMarcus Russell or Darrius Heyward-Bey or Rolando McClain in the making. Pryor was a phenomenal athlete and a proven winner, but NFL scouts didn't see much to like in his passing. There was talk of moving Pryor to tight end.

Davis died a month and a half after stamping the selection with his seal of approval. He never got a chance to say, “I told you so.” Pryor is not yet an elite NFL quarterback, as evidenced by his unsightly performance at Kansas City in Week 6. But his dramatic improvement this year has caught everyone by surprise.

Well, perhaps not everyone. The supremely confident Pryor seemed to expect this leap all along. And so did Tom House.

Most people who know the name recognize House as a baseball pitcher. He played eight years with the Braves, Red Sox and Mariners, mostly as a reliever, and is probably best remembered for catching Hank Aaron's record-breaking 715th home run while in the bullpen for Atlanta on April 8, 1974, and running to home plate to deliver the ball to Aaron.

Since retiring as a player, House had reinvented himself as a coach. He was a pitching coach for several pro teams, and for many years at his alma mater, USC. But he also works with tennis players, golfers and quarterbacks, any athlete who uses what House refers to as “rotational movement skills.”

House has become almost a mythic figure among quarterbacks. He has worked with Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Alex Smith, among many others, and last offseason he tutored Pryor.

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