Terrelle Pryor's QB past will help develop rapport with Kirk Cousins

Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins said he's never had conversations with a receiver (0:40)

Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins said he's never had conversations with a receiver like he has with Terrelle Pryor, owing it to Pryor having played the position. Video by John Keim (0:40)

ASHBURN, Va. -- Their talks haven’t been the typical ones between a quarterback and a receiver. Then again, Washington Redskins receiver Terrelle Pryor’s background suggests he should know more, having played quarterback in college and in three NFL seasons. And that pleases Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins.

It can help quicken their connection. Cousins loves the details of the position; Pryor knows what that entails.

“It’s even caught me by surprise,” Cousins said.

Cousins actually will be throwing to two former quarterbacks; tight end Jordan Reed entered Florida playing that position before switching to tight end after his freshman season. Pryor, though, played it at a much higher level, having started 10 games at the position in three years with Oakland, with 311 career passing attempts. Last season was his first full year as a receiver and Pryor responded with 1,007 yards.

Cousins and Pryor first worked together in Florida two months ago with a group of fellow Redskins players. But Pryor and Cousins met the night before, spending two hours going over plays and hand signals in Cousins’ hotel room.

“I have to know as much knowledge as he knows,” Pryor said in April. “That’s just how I am, a little different. I want to know the whole concept; I want to know the route depth. I want to know all. It’s the quarterback in me. I can’t let it go; it’s a love of the game. More knowledge is more power and more knowledge is more valuable. You have to know your part and can’t mess up thinking you know everything. I really take that serious, in terms of knowing what everyone does and what everyone needs to be doing.”

Pryor explained how, in the red zone, knowing what a quarterback goes through on certain routes helps. For example, he said, he knows that on a fade, he must be patient off the line and create separation. That requires him to drive into a defender and then back to the outside. It’s important to the timing of the play because if the quarterback is in shotgun formation, he must get the snap, spin the laces and then throw. Pryor said Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer once told him that if the receiver gets open too fast, the quarterback might not be ready to throw.

That knowledge can help Cousins and the Redskins’ offense. Also, Pryor’s ability to read a defense will as well. It’s not just about knowing the coverage on his side; it’s about knowing the big picture of a defense. It allows Pryor to adjust at receiver with the thought process of a quarterback. Cousins knows that it also means Pryor knows where the quarterback should throw by looking at the defense.

“He’s going to hold me accountable because he knows where the ball should go,” Cousins said. “I like it because I’ve never had a conversation with a receiver like I’ve had with him where he said, ‘Yeah, it was two-invert, so I took it to the post. It was quarters on the backside.’ He really can see it and he’s going to hold me accountable, so you take the good with the bad. I love it. He’s an enthusiastic guy. He’s always wanting to run another route. ‘Let’s try it again, let’s do it again,’ just a positive attitude and he’s been a joy to work with thus far.”