Terrelle Pryor was the Raiders' famous phantom last season -- highly anticipated but nearly invisible, unplayable and inaudible.
He knew it. He didn't know what to do about it. He helped to cause it, and the Raiders' traditional midseason chaos didn't help any of it, either.
After the abrupt, controversial end to Pryor's Ohio State career, his selection by the Raiders in the supplemental draft and his five-game NFL suspension, Pryor remained a 2011 afterthought.
"I didn't know anything last year, nothing at all," Pryor said after a Raiders full-team workout this week.
"I came in last year at the end of camp, and everything was already put in. I couldn't ask the coach, the offensive coordinator.
"We didn't even have a quarterbacks coach, so I couldn't even learn anything from that standpoint. So this is definitely a blessing, and this is in God's hands."
The blessing, for Pryor, is that he has an offseason to digest NFL life and finally has a quarterbacks coach (John DeFilippo) to grind through the technical details with him.
But beyond that, Pryor just looks and sounds so much more assured and comfortable as a Raider in 2012 than he ever did in 2011.
During the practice, Pryor moved easily from drill to drill alongside Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart and threw some nice balls with a tight, easy motion.
Then Pryor showed up for the media availability period, making direct eye contact and giving direct, expansive answers.
For perspective, last year Pryor was on the field for one play -- which was wiped out by penalty -- and was available for media interaction about as often.
So, a relaxed Pryor, speaking at length ... is definitely a significant development.
"Carson is the starter, and he's going to be the starter," Pryor said of the Raiders' QB hierarchy. "But I don't put myself as I'm going to be a backup ...
"Carson's always played well and always will. Whenever the opportunity comes for me to play, I'll play. But I'm not planning to be a backup. Get that correct."
Pryor frequently mentioned that Palmer has been a big help to him and said that Leinart has only added to the chemistry.
No doubt, all three QBs can identify with each other -- all three were enormously successful college QBs who have had interesting bumps along their NFL paths.
The important thing is that Pryor's work ethic has been lauded by new coach Dennis Allen, when Allen and new general manager Reggie McKenzie could've written Pryor off as a failed project of the Hue Jackson/Al Davis era.
By the way, Palmer vouches for Pryor's work ethic, too.
"It's fun to be around a young guy like that," Palmer said, "that's champing at the bit to get in there and get reps and wants to steal your reps and wants to get in there and compete."
Pryor, who turns 23 next month, flashed a little of his competitive nature when a reporter mentioned that the three seem to have very different skill sets.
Let's see, Leinart is familiar with offensive coordinator Greg Knapp's West Coast system, Pryor is a great runner, and Palmer has the big arm ...
"I've got a big arm too," Pryor said. "A big arm. I just happen to be able to run and that just adds on to my arsenal."
DeFilippo, the QB coach, will be the key ingredient here. Pryor said he's in constant communication with his position coach and has already fine-tuned his footwork.
Last year, Pryor lost his Ohio State coaching support and came to the Raiders, where there was no specific coach assigned to him.
"I didn't know what I was getting into coming in here," Pryor said. "It's definitely great that Mr. McKenzie got a quarterback coach because I'm learning a lot."
Starkly, Pryor exists as one of the franchise's last links to Davis -- he was Al Davis' final draft pick and has all the height-size-speed tools Davis always cherished.
Pryor says that he and Davis used to have regular phone conversations in the months before Davis' death.
"Just a couple times a week -- he would just tell me he believed in me and stuff like that," Pryor said.
"That drives me. Because the last pick -- the last pick may not mean anything. I might not mean nothing to anybody.
"But to me, you know, it kind of felt like -- last pick of a guy that made a legacy of football ... I mean, that's special."
Al is gone, but Pryor is still here, and now he's actually visible on the field and audible in public. It's an immense step, after the controversy, the chaos and the phantom season.