JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Tom Coughlin is known for many things. He helped build the Jacksonville Jaguars, taking them to a pair of AFC Championship games in eight seasons. He also won two Super Bowls as the head coach of the New York Giants and is a strict disciplinarian with some ridiculous-sounding rules.
But when Terrelle Pryor thinks about Coughlin he immediately thinks about wide receivers, which is why he was happy the Jaguars called him for a workout and eventually signed him last Monday morning.
“His view of receivers and how he teaches it, even when he was a head coach,” Pryor said. “I remember working out for him back in 2015. I was hurt coming off of the Browns and I got cut from the Browns in the preseason. I worked out for the Giants, and I was excited because I knew about Coughlin's history with receivers and stuff. When I worked out for him and he didn't sign me, I was kind of bummed out.”
Coughlin has had success with the wide receiver position during his NFL coaching career. He spent seven seasons as a receivers coach with Philadelphia, Green Bay and the New York Giants and two players -- Mike Quick and Lionel Manuel -- had a total of three 1,000-yard seasons.
Jimmy Smith enjoyed seven of his nine 1,000-yard seasons and Keenan McCardell four of his five 1,000-yard seasons while Coughlin was coaching the Jaguars from 1995-2002. During Coughlin’s 12 seasons as the Giants coach, five receivers (Plaxico Burress, Steve Smith, Hakeem Nix, Victor Cruz, and Odell Beckham, Jr.) surpassed 1,000 yards receiving nine times.
Coughlin isn’t doing any on-field coaching with the Jaguars in his role as executive vice president of football operations but he was at Pryor’s workout and attends organized team activities. Pryor is hoping Coughlin offering him a chance to win a roster spot over the next three months will allow him to make up for the past two disappointing seasons.
Pryor, whom Oakland selected as a quarterback in the third round of the 2011 supplemental draft, has only been a receiver since 2015. He seemed to be on his way to a productive career after catching 77 passes for 1,007 yards and four touchdowns with the Browns in 2016, but multiple injuries and a clash with New York Jets coach Todd Bowles ruined his past two seasons.
The Browns didn’t re-sign Pryor and he joined the Washington Redskins on a one-year, $8 million contract. He suffered an ankle injury in Week 2 but played through it until opting for surgery in November and finished with 20 catches for 240 yards and one TD in nine games.
Pryor signed with the Jets and had 14 catches for 235 yards and two touchdowns in the first six games while playing through a groin injury. He also drew heavy criticism from Bowles during the preseason after he told reporters he had suffered a broken ankle during offseason workouts. Bowles and the Jets had previously said it was a minor injury.
The Jets cut Pryor in October (he was still dealing with the groin injury) but he landed with Buffalo and told reporters there that he felt he was underused in New York. Pryor caught two passes for 17 yards in two games before being cut.
"[Last season] was hard because with the Jets, if you really look back at that stats, Week 6, I was leading the receivers in a lot of categories,” Pryor said. “I might have been leading in touchdowns, yards, a couple different things. I wasn't far off from yards and I missed two games. I barely played because I pulled that groin early on. It felt better and then it started hampering me again. I was shocked at that one. I was shocked at that move. But business is business and it is what it is."
Pryor joins a group of receivers in Jacksonville that have a lot to prove. Six-year vet Marqise Lee, who has the most catches of any receiver on the roster (171), missed the 2018 season after suffering a knee injury in the preseason. The Jaguars signed Chris Conley (104 catches) in free agency -- he’s been the most impressive receiver in OTAs -- and three other receivers return from 2018, though two face significant questions.
Third-year player Keelan Cole was a major surprise as an undrafted rookie in 2017, leading the team with 748 receiving yards, but was a disappointment in 2018. Cole was benched in October after five drops and two lost fumbles and had nine catches over the final eight games.
DJ Chark was a second-round draft pick -- the Jaguars said they had a first-round grade on him -- last season but he made more of an impact on special teams. He caught 14 passes for 174 yards.
Third-year player Dede Westbrook emerged as the Jaguars’ top receiver and playmaker last season, catching 66 passes for 717 yards and five touchdowns. The Jaguars scored four touchdowns in the final five games (one was an interception return) and Westbrook had two of them.
Lee, Conley, Chark and Westbrook are locks to make the roster. The Jaguars really like Cole, too, so Pryor may have to beat him out to make the roster if the Jaguars only keep five. If they keep six, Pryor should have the advantage over undrafted rookies Michael Walker, Raphael Leonard, Tyre Brady, and Dredrick Snelson and first-year player C.J. Board, who has no career catches.
Pryor feels good about his chances because he’s finally over the ankle injury he said bothered him the past two seasons.
“The problem for me these past two years was really my foot,” he said. “After I tore my ankle two years ago, it was just so hard starting and stopping. Finally, it's to the point where I don't have any pain and I don't feel any stoppage on my ankle. I was really battling something there. I prayed to God and I thank God for giving me the opportunity to even come back and be able to have my foot exactly how I feel. It feels good."