By Scott Petrak
BEREA — Receiver Terrelle Pryor’s lingering hamstring injury cost him precious time on the field and with his son. His frustration was obvious as he talked to reporters Thursday, but he said it hasn’t gotten the best of him.
“It’s making me, not angry, but I have that burning desire like I want to get out there,” he said. “And it’s taken that away from me. It’s taken away from that day I get to see my son. Family’s important to me.
“I’m dedicated to my injury, I’m dedicated to coming back 100 percent and trying to get back as fast as possible. My competitive spirit’s at an all-time high.”
Pryor has been trying to make it back since injuring his right hamstring Aug. 4 in practice. He practiced once against the Bills on Aug. 17 but aggravated it. He returned to practice again Wednesday.
The injury requires daily treatment, so he’s been unable to make the drive to Pittsburgh on off days to visit his son.
The next week is critical for Pryor as he tries to make the Browns after making the switch from quarterback. He took increased repetitions Thursday, and coach Mike Pettine said his availability for Saturday against Tampa Bay would depend on how the hamstring responded. His last chance to impress the decision-makers would be Thursday in the preseason finale against the Bears.
“Just do his job, whatever his job is on that play, do it. Do it to the best of his ability,” Pettine said. “We know he’s a project. We understand that. We’re not expecting him to go out there and light it up and catch 10 balls for 150 yards and two touchdowns. Just continue to get better.
“We understand it’s a process. It’s just been unfortunate with the injury, the setbacks, that we haven’t been able to get as good of an evaluation as we wanted.”
“I don’t think it’s a project,” Pryor said. “I think it’s a matter of getting reps and going out there and using my ability and trying to help the team however I can.”
He said he isn’t worried that the time missed will cost him a roster spot because it’s something he can’t control.
“I know I could help this team and make plays for this team, but at the same time I can’t control the decisions they make,” he said.
Pryor said the hamstring felt good Thursday and he had a productive practice, including a touchdown catch. He looked good early in camp and drew raves from general manager Ray Farmer, Pettine and teammates. The potential didn’t vanish during his time on the sideline, but he’s yet to show he can make plays as a receiver in a game against at opponent.
If Pryor doesn’t make the 53-man roster at the crowded receiver spot, cornerback Joe Haden believes he could be snatched up by another team.
“Oh, yeah, for sure,” he said. “He’s like a guy you could see just in the rotation, you could see something happening with him, so I know another team can see that talent and wouldn’t mind picking him up.
“I want to see TP play, too. I’m just like everyone else. I know he has it in him, but you need that game action.”
NEW GIG: Former Browns CEO Joe Banner will be sharing his strong opinions in a new, much larger forum. He was hired by ESPN as a front office insider and will debut Sept. 3.
Banner, who tweets often about the NFL and the Browns, including getting into exchanges with fans, will be seen mostly weekdays on “NFL Insiders.” He’ll also contribute to “SportsCenter,” ESPN Radio and ESPN.com.
“Joe brings another smart, experienced front office voice to the NFL Insiders that will help educate our viewers on the inner workings of the league,” ESPN senior coordinating producer, NFL studio shows Seth Markman said in a release announcing the move.
Banner worked in the Eagles front office from 1994-2012, including 12 years as president. He was hired as CEO of the Browns in 2012 and fired in February 2014.
In Cleveland, he was responsible for hiring coach Rob Chudzinski and firing him after a season, then led the search that found Pettine. Banner was fired weeks later.
The only players left from Banner’s lone draft in 2013 are outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo, the No. 6 pick, and seventh-round defensive end Armonty Bryant. He also acquired two future draft picks and later traded running back Trent Richardson for a first-round pick.
“Those of you worried that I won’t be as honest or direct, need not worry,” Banner tweeted. “My hope is to be fair, insightful, passionate and fearless.”
Former Browns general manager Phil Savage (2005-08) is also an ESPN analyst.
INJURY REPORT: Defensive lineman Phil Taylor joined cornerbacks Justin Gilbert (hip), K’Waun Williams (abdominal) and Robert Nelson (hamstring), offensive lineman Michael Bowie (shoulder) and nose tackle Ishmaa’ily Kitchen on the stationary bikes.
Taylor is trying to make his way back following serious knee surgery. He’s practiced throughout camp but didn’t play in the first two preseason games.
“He is just day-to-day with the tolerance of it,” Pettine said. “With guys coming off of serious injuries like that, you really leave it up to them. If it doesn’t feel right, we are not going to force them, especially this time of year.”
** Pettine expects Haden (hamstring) and free safety Tashaun Gipson (calf) to play against the Buccaneers assuming they had no setbacks after two days of practice.
** Pettine said Williams has a strained oblique. He could play in the finale against the Bears, but the Browns won’t rush him back.
** Pettine said he hopes running back Shaun Draughn can play special teams Saturday. His injured thumb is in a cast and he’d have to play with it covered.
“We do not plan on him handling the ball, but at least he can still get out there and play some of the phases of special teams,” Pettine said. “As time goes on with him the cast can get smaller and smaller. We are hopeful by Week 1 that it will be to the point where he could handle the ball if he had to.”
BACK IN ACTION: Haden expects to make his preseason debut Saturday.
“I look forward to it,” he said.
He had been out since the preseason opener Aug. 13 with a hamstring injury.
“It’s doing a whole lot better,” he said.
Haden hopes to help the first-team defense by improving its play on third down. It’s given up at least a first down on every possession through two games.
“I would like to see us, as long as we play in there, to just try to get some three-and-outs,” he said. “We haven’t been able to get off the field on third down. It’s on the secondary to be able to get off the field.”
The starters on both sides of the ball are expected to play at least a half, and Pettine said they could play into the third quarter.
OUT OF HERE: Backup center Ryan Seymour was waived to make room for quarterback Pat Devlin, who was signed Thursday.
Seymour failed a test for performance-enhancing substances and faces a four-game suspension from the league once the regular season starts. He appeared in 11 games last season with three starts at center.
Right guard John Greco and rookie Cameron Erving, the No. 19 pick, are the lead options to fill in if starting center Alex Mack were to get hurt again. He missed the final 11 games last year after breaking a leg.