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2023 training camp preview | Wide receiver

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The Washington Commanders are inching closer to the start of training camp and a critical year for the franchise. 

We're about a month away from the players and reporting to Ashburn after taking some time off. There were high expectations for the team in 2022, and while there were some positives, including a 6-1 stretch to get in playoff contention, it fell short of its goal with an 8-8-1 record. Now, with a new quarterback and offensive coordinator leading the offense, the expectations have continued to rise all offseason. will be breaking down each position and how they've changed in the past year. Next up are the wide receivers. 


  • N/A 


  • Marcus Kemp 
  • Kazmeir Allen

Key storylines 

-- Jahan Dotson's development: Jahan Dotson lived up to and surpassed just about every expectation for him last season. 

After someone thought it was a reach for the Commanders to use their 2022 first-round pick on the former Penn State wideout, Dotson strengthened what was already a solid receiving corps by putting some of the best numbers for a rookie pass-catcher. Injuries kept him sidelined for five games, but he still managed to tie Christian Watson for the most receiving touchdowns among rookies (7). 

The next step is for him to build on that, and it sounds like Eric Bieniemy intends to help him do that. 

"I ran into him yesterday after meetings, and he said, 'You have so much potential, and I'm gonna make sure I get it out of you,'" Dotson said. "That's what you want in someone." 

Dotson showed he has the potential to make game-changing plays. He played a significant role in the Commanders beating the Jaguars in Week 1 with two scores, and he tied the score in the first matchup against the Giants with just a handful of ticks on the clock. The plan is to get him to do that more consistently (there was a three-game stretch where he only had two catches for 27 yards, although some of that can be blamed on him working himself back up to speed after his hamstring injury). 

His new position coach Bobby Engram is positive he can make a jump in Year 2. 

"He's got great hands, he understands how to run routes and set guys up," Engram said. "He plays fast, and he's a guy that's dependable and reliable, but he also has big play ability."

-- Who will fill out the bottom of the position: There are no questions as to which receivers will be at the top of the position. Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel, Dotson and Dyami Brown are the best wideouts the Commanders have from a talent perspective, which leaves only a couple open positions left.

Most of the remaining options had a decent offseason, which is a good problem for the Commanders. Players like Jalen Sample and Brycen Tremayne had their moments, and while they have a slim path towards making the roster, they are providing some competition.

There are, however, three players to keep an eye on heading into training camp: veterans Marcus Kemp and Dax Milne as well as undrafted free agent Kazmeir Allen. Kemp only has four career receptions, but he was a mainstay on the Chiefs' roster when Bieniemy was in Kansas City because he knows the system and does have some special teams value. He made a few nice catches during OTAs, so perhaps all that will lead to him finding a spot on the roster.

As for Milne and Allen, there is some overlap in their skill sets. Milne, a 2021 seventh-round pick, has managed to claim a roster spot in previous years because he's a good route runner and has reliable hands (he only has 21 targets in his career, but his catch rate is 71.4%). He also served as a return specialist, averaging 7.8 yards per punt return and 20 yards per kick return.

But Allen has caught the coaches' attention because of what he could offer on special teams. Allen only returned kickoffs in the last two seasons of his college career with the Bruins but managed to become one of the better specialists in the Pac-12. He finished the 2021 season first in the conference with an average of 29.1 yards per return and 17th in the NCAA in return yardage (612). In 2022, he was third in the conference with an average of 24.6 yards.

Allen missed some time in OTAs because of a hamstring issue, but he will be a player to watch as he tries to earn a roster spot.

-- Will Terry McLaurin break another franchise record: McLaurin is already considered one of the better receivers in franchise history, and assuming he has another strong season, he will further cement himself in that category.

For starters, McLaurin is less than 300 yards away from passing Pierre Garcon for 10th on the Commanders' all-time receiving yards list. The next on the list would be Chris Cooley with 4,711 yards, and if McLaurin were to put up the same numbers as he did last year (1,191), then he would move up to as high as eighth behind Jerry Smith.

But let's hang on to the thought of McLaurin getting a fourth consecutive 1,000-yard season for a moment. McLaurin was the first Washington player since Henry Ellard to hit 1,000 yards for the third straight season. If he were to do that a fourth time, he would be the first in team history to accomplish that feat. Considering all the legendary receivers that have worn the Burgundy & Gold, that is significant.

All that will depend on his relationship with Sam Howell, assuming he is named the starting quarterback. McLaurin was Howell's first target against the Cowboys in Week 18, resulting in a touchdown. The two worked well together during OTAs, although it may take some time to get completely in sync.

That would be understandable since Howell is only a second-year player with just a few starting snaps to his name. But there's nothing wrong with getting McLaurin the ball as often as possible, and if Howell can do that, it should equate to a strong season for both of them.

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