Terry McLaurin is recognized as one of the hardest-working wide receivers in the NFL. Dallas Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs has played like one of the best defensive backs this year.
They have already met once in their careers, and Round 2 is coming up on Sunday.
"I think he's a really good player," McLaurin said Thursday. "I thought that last year as well. One of the things I liked about his game is that he's really competitive, and I'm a competitive person, too, so it makes for a fun game."
Diggs, who leads the NFL with nine interceptions, is the brightest star on a Cowboys secondary that is tied for the most interceptions (19). While he doesn't have the best cover grade -- his Pro Football Focus grade is 59.6 -- he is certainly one of the most aggressive defensive backs, using his 6-foot-2, 207-pound frame to jam receivers at the line of scrimmage.
"He's a dude that gets his hands on a lot of balls and I think he has a good understanding of how receivers get open because he has that receiver background," McLaurin said.
The Washington Football Team wraps up its week of practice for its first matchup with the Dallas Cowboys this season on Sunday Dec. 12. (Photos by Emilee Fails and Karlee Sell/Washington Football Team)
McLaurin, on the other hand, has been one of the best at figuring out how to work around physicality. He's the highest-graded receiver on contested targets from PFF, and his 32 contested targets since 2020 are the most in the NFL.
"When you have those opportunities with the ball in the air and you can come down with them, it just gives a lot of energy and confidence to your quarterback, your offense and your team," McLaurin said. "I think it's something I'm always constantly working on."
But the Cowboys don't need to read the stats to know how good McLaurin has been. They just need to turn on the tape. He racked up 182 yards and a touchdown against Dallas last season. The score came on a 52-yard catch at FedExField, and it just so happens that Diggs was the player McLaurin beat.
Diggs has lined up against some quality receivers this season, including Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, D.J. Moore and Justin Jefferson. McLaurin is up next, and he has just as much respect for the third-year receiver.
"He's a good receiver. One of the better receivers in our division," Diggs told the Dallas media. "Look at the tape."
Washington has shifted a heavier emphasis on the ground game since the bye week, and as a result, McLaurin wasn't quite as impactful in the past two weeks. Still, McLaurin has given reminders -- like his 103-yard game in a 27-21 victory over the Carolina Panthers -- that he remains a force in the passing game.
So, while the outcome of Washington's game with the Cowboys -- the first of five straight division games -- can't be determined by one matchup, whatever happens between McLaurin and Diggs will play a part in how things shake out on Sunday. There shouldn't be any doubt that McLaurin is up to the task.
"I'm looking forward to competing against him," McLaurin said.