- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 14, 2020

Terry McLaurin can tell the difference a breakout season makes.

A year ago, the first-year Redskins wide receiver, taken in the third round out of Ohio State, was one of the NFL’s biggest surprises, grabbing 58 passes for 919 yards and earning all-league rookie honors.

Expectations are different now: McLaurin can see that in the rise in media requests, the increase in fan engagement and beyond that, an expanded on-the-field role in the Redskins offense. 

The 24-year-old says he’s trying to take it all in stride.

“While I’m happy with what I did last year, it’s done and over with,” McLaurin said.

McLaurin looked like a blossoming star for the Redskins in 2019 and because of it, Washington is counting on him to take another step forward as its No. 1 wide receiver this season. McLaurin’s presence is a large reason why the Redskins, despite failing to add a big-name wideout in free agency, are hopeful their passing attack can significantly improve in 2020.

McLaurin knows this — and it’s why the wide receiver said he felt like he didn’t have “any time to waste” when it came to his offseason. McLaurin started his workouts just three days after the Super Bowl and has since trained in Virginia, Indianapolis and Florida. He’s worked with quarterback Dwayne Haskins and receivers Kelvin Harmon and Steven Sims to non-Redskins like LeSean McCoy and Frank Gore.

When the coronavirus pandemic struck, many NFL players saw their offseason regime delayed. But McLaurin says he had already gotten two months work in before the Redskins’ facility and other gyms closed.

“I try to come in with a mentality of ‘I can’t afford to lose,’” McLaurin said.

The Redskins haven’t had a 1,000-yard receiver since 2016, when DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon each reached that mark with quarterback Kirk Cousins. But McLaurin came close, and likely would have if not for the two games he missed because of injury. A concussion kept him out of Week 17.

Under new offensive coordinator Scott Turner, the Redskins are focused on stretching the field and completing deep passes. Speaking to reporters last month, Turner said McLaurin would be one of the players the Redskins would emphasize in their game plans. On paper, McLaurin’s speed — he ran a 4.35 40-yard dash at the combine — and precise route running make him the ideal weapon for that type of offense.

McLaurin said he individually spoke with Turner a month ago, reviewing his role in the Redskins’ scheme. In meetings, McLaurin’s coaches have told him they see him staying at the “X” position, the weakside spot he played under former coach Jay Gruden. But, McLaurin said, they want him to be ready to play all three spots — including the slot, where McLaurin lined up for 17% of his snaps last season, according to Pro Football Focus.

The Redskins did try and add a big-name wide receiver in free agency, but struck out when Amari Cooper re-signed with the Dallas Cowboys on a five-year, $100 million deal. Instead of using their cap space on other notable veteran wideouts like Robby Anderson and Devin Funchess, the Redskins stood mostly pat and are relying on the team’s youth at the position. (Washington did add journeyman Cody Latimer.)

Redskins coach Ron Rivera, though, has expressed confidence in the group. He even indicated that Washington is not interested in free agent Antonio Brown because the team has to “find out about” its young wideouts first. “We want to see what we have,” Rivera said.

Appearing on Fox Sports late last month, Rivera, in particular, had strong praise for McLaurin. He called the wideout a “treat,” comparing him to former Maryland standout D.J. Moore, the 2018 first-rounder that Rivera coached in Carolina.

“He’s a guy that could be on the verge (of stardom),” Rivera said. “He really is.”

McLaurin is doing his part to make sure that happens. Teams now have a full year of film of McLaurin to study, and McLaurin said he wants to be ready for whatever adjustments defenses throw his way. He said he’s focused on improving his ability to win one-on-one situations, making sure his routes are correct and that he continues to attack the ball.

His quarterback likes what he sees.

“It’s the best I’ve seen Terry,” Haskins said, “and I’ve known Terry since I was a freshman in college.”


• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide