Moments after learning the Jaguars had claimed him, he walked back into the Bengals locker room, where he still had a name plate and personal belongings, and started saying his goodbyes and trying to sort out the next step.
“I felt like if things didn’t work out here I made enough plays where I guess I could make a name for myself and I guess Jacksonville felt they need some receivers and I’m one of those guys,” Pryor said.
“It’s bittersweet because I definitely would love to have been here,” Pryor added. “But, I’m not going to complain about somebody wanting to pick me up, so I’ve just got to take advantage of the opportunity and just continue to go out there and make plays.”
Pryor, who played in a run-oriented Wisconsin offense, had some impressive plays in training camp and throughout the preseason, highlighted by a one-handed grab down the sideline in the preseason opener. He ranked fourth in the league during the preseason with 182 yards receiving on 13 catches, and he had one touchdown.
Bengals coach Zac Taylor joked that he was yelling at his brother, Jaguars offensive coordinator Press Taylor, for taking Pryor, but in a more serious tone he was happy for the “good, young player.”
Cincinnati landed three players from the waiver wire, despite sitting in 31st position, adding Houston offensive guard Max Scharping, former Patriots tight end Devin Asiasi and Jacksonville defensive tackle Jay Tufele, the latter two whom the Bengals staff evaluated together before the 2020 and 2021 drafts.
“We liked these three players, so when you like players you don’t think at 31 that you are going to get them, and it just so happened that we did,” Taylor said. “We’re happy, because we see fits for these guys and maybe other teams didn’t the way they’re structured, the way their depth was. For us these three hit positions where we felt like we could help ourselves.”
In order to make room on the roster, the Bengals waived running back Trayveon Williams and terminated the contracts of vested veteran quarterback Brandon Allen and safety Michael Thomas, who are likely to return once injured reserve moves are made.
Williams would be a candidate for the practice squad. The Bengals filled 13 of the 16 practice squad spots with long snapper Cal Adomitis, quarterback Jake Browning, punter Drue Chrisman, offensive linemen Devin Cochran and Nate Gilliam, defensive tackles Tyler Shelvin and Domenique Davis, wide receivers Kwamie Lassiter and Trenton Irwin, defensive end Raymond Johnson III, linebackers Keandre Jones and Tegray Scales and tight end Thaddeus Moss.
The Bengals reportedly hosted free agent tight end O.J. Howard, who was a surprise cut by the Bills on Tuesday, but Taylor said he wasn’t expecting any additional pickups beyond the three waiver claims. Asiasi appears to have filled the need at tight end – with both Drew Sample and Mitchell Wilcox coming back from injuries – instead.
Scharping, a 2019 second-round draft pick out of Northern Illinois, adds depth as a backup guard on a day Taylor confirmed Cordell Volson won the starting left guard job over Jackson Carman.
“We were looking to add the right person,” Taylor said of Scharping. “That’s why we put in one claim for one offensive lineman and it was Max. We’re excited to get him into the mix and see what he’s about.”
Taylor said the staff made the decision to move forward with Volson as the starting left guard because of his “consistent growth.” That means for a second straight preseason, Carman has been given an opportunity to earn a starting role and been unable to seize it. Taylor said he needs to show continued improvement in order to get more opportunities.
“I think Jackson has come a long way since last year even,” Taylor said. “We just added another player to the mix who has also shown improvement over a short period of time. This isn’t even a setback in some ways. It gives Jackson a chance to continue to learn and grow and keep improving every single day like Frank (Pollack) asks him to. I like Jackson; I like what he’s about. I think he has a very bright future here.”