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A Pro Bowl Season Is Brewing For Terry McLaurin

Washington Football Team wide receiver Terry McLaurin (17) catches the ball against San Francisco 49ers during an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Jennifer Stewart)
Washington Football Team wide receiver Terry McLaurin (17) catches the ball against San Francisco 49ers during an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Jennifer Stewart)

It has been an exceptional second season for Washington Football Team wide receiver Terry McLaurin. He has eclipsed his rookie numbers and was recently named a team captain. Now, a Pro Bowl selection might be on the horizon.

McLaurin is currently 10th in the league with 1,001 receiving yards. He has caught 64% of his targets, which would be a career-high, and is projected to finish the season with 90 receptions for 1,232 yards and four touchdowns.

McLaurin may not routinely garner national headlines like DK Metcalf, DeAndre Hopkins or Stefon Diggs, but make no mistake: the second-year wide receiver has quietly made his case that he is one of the best in the NFL. That's why you need to vote McLaurin to his first Pro Bowl, then check out his stats below and vote again.

"He really takes it up a whole other level," quarterback Alex Smith said after the Week 9 matchup with the New York Giants. "There aren't many guys that I have seen that can do that like he does. His willingness and...competitiveness, certainly combined with his talent, really makes him tough on Sunday. He's fun to watch. When he flips that switch on game day, you can see it. You can see it in his eyes. You can certainly see it in his play."

McLaurin set the bar high with 58 receptions, 919 yards and seven touchdowns in 2019, which amounted to one of the most productive seasons for a rookie receiver in franchise history. Despite going through a unique offseason and training camp, McLaurin is close to surpassing those numbers in nearly half the time. McLaurin is tied for ninth in the league in targets (114) and tied for 17th in receptions (73). He already has as many 100-yard games (three) as he did in 2019, and he has recorded fewer than 60 yards only three times this season.

"What's been impressive is, for such a young man and such a young player, to be as mature as he is first and foremost and be the right kind of person that you want to be one of your leaders," head coach Ron Rivera after McLaurin's teammates unanimously named him a team captain Nov. 4. "He leads by example. A very quiet leader who just goes out and does his job. But his performance does most certainly speak on the field whether it is practice or game time."

Many secondaries have tried to contain McLaurin, but few have succeeded. He has routinely faced off against opponents' best cornerbacks, and that list includes Darius Slay, Patrick Peterson, Denzel Ward, Marlon Humphrey, Jalen Ramsey, Marcus Peters, James Bradberry and Trevon Diggs. Despite that, McLaurin has averaged 13.7 yards per reception.

"I think before you can really grow and become a leader, I think you've got to prove and show you're good at what you do," said offensive coordinator Scott Turner. "I think Terry's proven that, obviously last year, and then this year as the season's gone on. He's been productive. He plays hard, he practices hard and I think as he's grown, even though he's a second-year guy. He's becoming a focal point and a leader of this offense."

McLaurin knows he's going to get attention from defenses; that's what happens to No. 1 receivers. Rather than complaining, he sees the matchups as a fun challenge.

"I know week in and week out I'm going to see the best corners for those respective teams, and I invite that challenge," he said. "I'm gonna try to make as many plays as possible and see if we can get out with a win."

McLaurin has three touchdowns so far this season, but two came in back-to-back games. Against the Cowboys in Week 7, McLaurin burned Diggs for a 52-yard touchdown. One week later against the Giants, McLaurin made a catch in traffic, shrugged off a defender and sprinted into the end zone for a 68-yard score.

"It was a play that we've been practicing," McLaurin said after the Giants game. "It's been in our playbook since Day 1. I saw the look where the corner went to grab the flat route on the opposite side, and Alex gave me a good chance. He threw it flat and I just wanted to meet the ball. When I caught the ball, honestly, I didn't expect to be free but I broke the tackle. Shoutout to Isaiah [Wright] and the other receivers, they kept fighting to give me an open lane to run for a touchdown. That was a big play for us. Alex gave me a chance, and that's all I can ask for."

Washington has had a rotating group of wide receivers in the starting lineup, but McLaurin has been the only constant and the sole member of the position to start every game. He's caught passes from three quarterbacks in nine games, and yet he has been a reliable target all season.

So show some appreciation for McLaurin and vote him to his first Pro Bowl. He's more than deserving.