The Washington Commanders' training camp practice at FedExField last Saturday provided the best look at what the connection between Carson Wentz and Terry McLaurin will look like during the regular season.
The play came near the end of the night for the starting offense. Wentz surveyed his options, pump faked and lobbed a pass over Danny Johnson and into the hands of McLaurin in the end zone. The play earned some praise from McLaurin's teammates as well as plenty of cheers from those in the stands.
Back when McLaurin signed his extension in July, coach Ron Rivera smiled before saying the connection between Wentz and Washington's No. 1 wideout is going to be big for the offense. It certainly seems like an ideal pairing; McLaurin is a downfield threat, and Wentz's arm strength opens the possibility of stretching the field.
There have not been many plays like the one at FedExField yet, but both players are dedicated to getting in sync before Week 1.
"I definitely think it is a work in progress," McLaurin said. "I feel like we are connecting more as the weeks go on."
Every quarterback is different and brings their own style to the field. That's something McLaurin can attest to better than most in the league, as he's caught passes from seven quarterbacks in three seasons.
As great as it would be for McLaurin and Wentz to mesh on Day 1, it is not realistic. It's all part of the process, McLaurin said, and it takes time to develop things. For the past month, McLaurin has been focused on getting to know Wentz as a person and letting that bond carry over to the field.
"Not everything is going to be perfect and there are going to be times where I take accountability when I mess up, and I think that's the foundation you want to lay," McLaurin said.
Procedurally, McLaurin said things are going "great" between Wentz and himself. McLaurin is getting in the right spots, and Wentz is trying to get him the ball. He does feel that things have "definitely improved" from the first week of camp, which provides groundwork for the next two weeks of practice.
There are only two ways for Wentz and McLaurin to strengthen their connection: communication and reps.
"It's just getting those repetitions and getting used to how [Wentz] throws the ball," McLaurin said. "He is going to give us a chance down the field make sure as receivers we are expecting, even if there is a little bit of coverage."
There is a lot that McLaurin likes about how Wentz plays his position. He puts the ball in front of his receivers, which gives them time to track the ball and run with it. And for a group that he's repeatedly called one of the most dynamic bunches he's played with, that allows them to use their speed and distance themselves from defenders.
Rivera also believes the chemistry between them will take time to develop, but the talent they both possess gives him a reason to be patient.
"I think he's getting used to Terry's speed a little bit," Rivera said. "A couple of times, early on, he was a little bit short. A couple of times, he was a little bit long. Now it's just about continuing to work on that and getting it right on the play."
Plays like the one they had at FedExField are evidence as to why that patience will pay off.
"It was good to see it out here," Wentz said of the touchdown. "[It was a] Different route that we haven't really worked on a lot yet. Just to feel that timing out here, especially in front of the fans, to get a little taste of the energy that we're gonna feel on Sundays out here, it's cool."
McLaurin said the play felt more like a "game rep" because of how well the timing worked out.
"You want to have those reps to put in your pocket because those are the ones that give you confidence."
McLaurin is looking forward to how Week 3 of camp will unfold. Not only will it allow Wentz and him to build on the positives of the offseason and training camp, but it will also bring a chance to test that connection against another opponent in the preseason opener against the Carolina Panthers.
McLaurin's priority is making sure the bond continues to grow as Washington gets closer to the regular season.
"I think we're definitely doing that," McLaurin said. "Obviously, the reps that we're getting are really good, and we're going to see what they look like in a game."