There were factors: The former Ohio State quarterback missed almost all of training camp (the supplemental draft unfolded in late August) before toiling through a five-game, league-imposed suspension for breaking NCAA rules while in college.
Pryor returned behind the eight-ball, struggling to find one-on-one time with a Raiders coaching staff absorbed by the regular-season grind. Carson Palmer's arrival only pushed Pryor farther down the depth chart, relegating him to obscurity for the first time in his athletic life.
Pryor recently admitted to pondering walking away from the game:
"It was extremely hard considering the circumstances," Pryor told SI's Jim Trotter. "I couldn't be outside with the team, I couldn't meet with the team, I couldn't even get paid by the team during the suspension. It was hard. ... When I was finally cleared, I didn't want to bother the coaches because they were trying to get ready for games. It was kind of hard asking them for help, because I saw how stressed out they were during the season, which I totally understand. But it just killed me that I didn't know the stuff that I was supposed to know. That was the worst part. I also couldn't compete. That's what really killed me.
"There was a point -- and I know it seems crazy -- but there was a point I was asking myself if I really loved this game anymore. That's where I was at (emotionally). Throughout the whole season I wasn't playing, I wasn't getting no love toward me. I just felt some type of way. I started questioning myself, even though I shouldn't have. I was like, 'Do I even love this game? Do I want to play this game? Is this what I want to do?' "
Pryor isn't any closer to starting in Oakland. Dennis Allen and his new coaching staff remain committed to Palmer and last week signed Matt Leinart. It amounts to more question marks for the 22-year-old quarterback, but Pryor claims he's more focused than ever.
"I feel like if I take a day off, somebody is outworking me and I'm losing an opportunity to get a percentage point better," Pryor said. "Coach (Jim) Tressel used to always tell us to get 1 percent better each day. Drew Brees said the same thing in his book, just try to get 1 percent better, 2 percent better each day."
For now, Pryor is left reading books authored by Drew Brees instead of facing him on the field, but he's no longer thinking about walking away from the game.