In less than a year, Terrelle Pryor has gone from out of the league to an all-out threat to opposing defenses, one that Redskins coach Jay Gruden identified this week as a player to "be aware of" on every snap.
It's been a whirlwind for Pryor but he's been reluctant to reflect on the trials and tribulations of last year or the record-setting performance he notched last week at Miami. The Browns' do-it-all wide receiver wants them both to be footnotes.
Pryor has bigger plans, and so does the coach who has been by his side on multiple occasions since he entered the NFL in 2012.
"I am trying to have a better one this year and a lot more," Pryor said. "I hope to have that a lot, and I believe I can. I just have to stay healthy and keep leading the team.
"We can always reflect on great things that go on because stuff like that happens, but I am looking for the next one. That is way far behind in the back of my mind right now. That is our job. Our job is to make plays."
For a brief moment Thursday, though, Browns coach Hue Jackson was able to reflect on a moment that could have changed everything in Pryor's rise as a wide receiver.
For most of the 2015 season, Pryor was without a team. He worked out for a number of teams throughout the year but nothing stuck. It wasn't until December when Pryor got the call from the Browns, who released him shortly before the start of the season. It took a couple of weeks for Pryor to get on the field, and he made his one and only catch of the season in Cleveland's finale against the Steelers.
Pryor was on Jackson's mind a few-hundred miles down I-71 during the same month. Jackson, then the Bengals offensive coordinator, saw his starting quarterback, Andy Dalton, lost for the season with a broken thumb. Looking for depth behind AJ McCarron, Jackson thought of Pryor, who was a quarterback for him in Oakland.
In this instance, Jackson was a couple weeks and a position change late to land Pryor, who was released as a quarterback by Cincinnati during OTAs of that season.
"I've never had him there as a receiver. We only had him there as a quarterback," Jackson said. "At that time, I knew that is what he truly wanted to do. I didn't feel very comfortable asking a guy, that was his dream, 'Will you switch positions and go play?' I thought the best thing for us to do at that time was to let him go chase his dream, which was trying to play quarterback.
"I never knew that he was truly going to make the decision to switch over and play receiver. Obviously, it worked out to where we've gotten a chance to bond again that way."
That bonding and Pryor's ascent as not just a capable NFL wide receiver, but one that becomes a part of an opposing defense's game plan go hand in hand. In his post-game press conference last week in Miami, Pryor was effusive in his praise of Jackson and the entire Browns coaching staff, calling it "one of the best" he's ever worked with.
Jackson and Co. have helped Pryor get the best out of his God-given talents. And like Pryor, they're focused on pulling even more out of him.
"There are a lot of things I know about Terrelle that maybe a lot of people don't. I'm talking about as far as what he is really capable of doing," Jackson said. "I would say to all of you that he hasn't even scratched the surface of what he is. I think he's growing each and every day as a football player, as a person. I just think he is getting better, and I think his best football's still ahead of him by far.
"He just has to keep working like he does every day and continue to get better and stay humble and be as good as he's been and good things will happen."
Pryor has maintained a humble mindset while expressing the confidence that has come naturally to him ever since he was one of the most coveted high school quarterbacks in recent history.
Asked Thursday about the prospect of facing Redskins cornerback Josh Norman, one of the NFL's best, Pryor listed his measurables to explain why he wouldn't let any on-field trash talk disrupt his performance. Later, he expressed the excitement he felt to share the field with Norman because it's yet another challenge in a season full of them.
"The thing I like about Josh is that when you watch him on film, he is very competitive," Pryor said. "It's awesome, I love when guys get in there and compete because that means we are going to have a game and it is going to be a battle – a lot of talking, and I enjoy that stuff so it's fine."
Without rookie Corey Coleman for another few weeks and without Josh Gordon, Pryor's place atop the opponent's scouting report isn't going anywhere. How he'll be used week to week may differ, but he's a "wide receiver first," Jackson said.
Pryor said last week he'd cut off a finger for the Browns if it meant they'd get in the win column. And even after the kind of performance he had against the Dolphins, his focus remained locked more on how he could help the team win rather than what he achieved in a statistical sense.
"He is still a young receiver that is emerging and getting better each and every day," Jackson said. "We are going to keep chasing and having him be as good as he can be. One thing I do admire about him is that he is willing to do anything we ask him to do. I think that is where it starts.
"There are some National Football League players I have been around, and I say I want you to try this and they say, 'I'm not doing that. This is what I do,' but not him. That is a gift, and I'm happy he is on our team."