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How Terrelle Pryor found his 'why' and a potential role on the Browns offense

At a press conference last week, Browns coach Hue Jackson said Terrelle Pryor had "flashed" in the first week of the team's OTAs. After all, it's obvious the quarterback-turned-receiver has started to settle into his new position and, perhaps, the chance to play a key role on Cleveland's new-look offense.

But it wasn't just Pryor's on-field progress that prompted such a sentiment.

Instead, Jackson said the former Ohio State star has his figured out his "why."

"The biggest thing, I think, that he's done is he's settled down and understands this is really what I want to do and I want to be good at it," Jackson said. "'I'm athletic enough to do it. What's my why? Why do I want to do this? Do I want to be great at this?'"

And that gave Pryor pause.

What's your why?

"Coach asks that, you know, he says that in the team meeting room," Pryor said Monday, "and my why is, why I do this, and what made me really want to keep pushing at this receiver thing is my son, and my grandma.

"She has cancer and she's battling it. She's starting her first stage of chemo coming up here. She always tells me to keep pushing and just to see her, that's something that really pushes me."

It's also seemed to offer Pryor -- who enters his second season with the Browns after being taken by Oakland in the 2011 NFL Supplemental Draft -- a new outlook. He said he also draws motivation from his teammates, whether it's learning from them or using his own talents to make them better.

"Somebody on the other side on defense, they got to guard me and I got to make them bust their butt and make them better and that's the only way we're going to get better," Pryor said. "That's the only way we're gonna start winning here, when guys are competing with each other and pushing it to the edge. And that's what I try to do every day."

So far, it's an approach that's served him and the Browns well as they continue offseason workouts. And for Pryor, it's a frame of mind that's been on display in practice and behind the scenes.

With a 6-foot-4, 233-pound frame and an uncanny speed — Pryor seems to glide past defenders once he gets into open space — the 26-year-old's versatility makes him an intriguing offensive weapon.

"I feel like any time — especially when I get the ball in open space — there's plenty of times where I go around the corner as a quarterback running the ball and stiff-arm one of those little DBs and keep going," Pryor said. "Any time I get the ball in my hand, something special is going to happen. So I think the QBs know that and I think Coach knows that. I'm looking forward to it."

Of course, athleticism — or lack thereof — has never been a question for Pryor, who's been in the spotlight since he was a five-star recruit at Jeannette High School (Pa.) almost a decade ago. What has been a challenge, however, has been the transition from quarterback to receiver, learning the ins and outs of a new position and combing through new playbooks over the past five years.

But under Jackson — whom Pryor played backup quarterback for with the Oakland Raiders in 2011 and briefly with the Bengals last summer — he seems to have gotten the hang of things after what he described as a "whirlwind" at first. The playbook is something he's now quite familiar with, he said.

"Sometimes I start whispering protections to my fellow receivers," Pryor said, laughing, "but I itch at it because I know the stuff so I can hear Coach Jackson asking the QBs or linemen a question and I'm like 'Oh, that's this or do this.' And it kind of rings and comes back to me.'"

Pryor, who lauded senior offensive assistant/wide receivers coach Al Saunders and others, said the coaching staff his helped him grow. "They're coaching me up, they're coaching all of us up. It's just been a blessing to see how well it's coming along, it's like night and day just from talking to all the quarterbacks and talking to people that've seen me and being around me with playing receiver."

The Browns took to the practice fields for Day 2 of OTAs - just the second day the rookies and veterans work on field together. (All photos by John Reid)

That's true — quarterbacks Robert Griffin and Josh McCown said they were impressed with Pryor's development after minicamp.

"He seems like he is getting more and more comfortable playing the position and being out there. His skill set — he's big, fast and all of those things — but last year, you kind of saw him thinking a little bit while he was doing it, trying to do things right so it takes away from your skill set," McCown said. "He can be an asset to us. I'm just impressed, first and foremost, with just his work ethic, just how he is approaching it."

Griffin added: "He's a quarterback at receiver so you know he is going to work hard. He is going to put in the extra time. He is going to do the studying."

And it doesn't appear that Pryor will let up anytime soon.

He's found his "why," after all.

"My challenge to each and every one of these guys is to be great at what you do -- not just be average -- it's to be great," Jackson said.

"He's working at it. I think we all see it. I think he's growing every day and getting better every day, and that's all you can ask for."

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