News | Washington Commanders -

Terry McLaurin 'Itching' To Get Back To Football After Exceptional Rookie Campaign 

Screen Shot 2020-01-30 at 4.06.04 PM

It's been over a month since the Redskins ended the 2019 season against the Dallas Cowboys, and Terry McLaurin hasn't spent much time in the film room watching tape from last year. He has, however, done a lot of reflecting on what those games meant for him.

As McLaurin described it on Jan. 30 to Voice of the Redskins Larry Micael and staff writer Kyle Stackpole on Radio Row ahead of Super Bowl LIV, his rookie season was "pretty crazy." As a third-round pick, he quickly rose to become the Redskins' No.1 option and one of the best rookie receivers in the NFL. That was all while catching passes from three different quarterbacks and going through a midseason coaching change.

It's cool, McLaurin said, to see how far he has come in less than a year, but he's not too focused on all that. He wants to spend all his time preparing for next season, and he's "itching" to get back to football.

"The first thing I said when I landed [in Miami] and saw all the banners and the setting, I'm like, 'We gotta play in [the Super Bowl],'" McLaurin said. "I'm so hungry to play in this game."

McLaurin doesn't need to watch tape to know that he was a consistent option for his quarterbacks since the season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles. He said the stat sheets might not show it, but that's only because he had such a strong start, as almost half of his 919 receiving yards (408) and five of his seven touchdowns came in the first five games.

But when you compare his numbers to his rookie counterparts, they show that he was one of the best. He finished second in yards and receptions (58), tied for third in touchdowns and tied for second on plays resulting in least 20 yards (15).

His consistency doesn't stop at statistics, though; it extends to his route running, work ethic and preparation to be ready on Sundays.

"I wasn't confusing our quarterbacks," McLaurin said. "They had trust in me on third down. I think it's a testament to: A) my production, but B) the trust my coaches and teammates gave me."

No matter who was leading the offense or calling plays, McLaurin was told the team relied on him to make the big play. Some young players might have taken it as putting too much pressure on their shoulders, but McLaurin didn't see it that way.

"I saw it as a unique opportunity to be that person that everybody sees me as and I see myself as," he said. "I just wanted to prove that week in and week out, and I'm just looking forward to building upon that and being even stronger."

Regardless of how McLaurin viewed his situation, his approach clearly worked, as he finished the season with the second-most receiving yards for a rookie in franchise history and led the team in the category (running back Chris Thompson had the second most with 378 yards).

It also impressed newly-hired head coach Ron Rivera, who spent the weeks before he was officially hired on New Year's Day evaluating every player on the roster. Rivera spoke of setting a core of players for he and the coaching staff to build around moving forward, and he named McLaurin as one of them.

"Here's a guy who had a very good rookie year, and as you think about that ... I get excited about a young man, a rookie, who played as much as he did and had as much success as he did. Now, you go, 'OK, it's not too big for him,'" Rivera said.

Perhaps the area of improvement McLaurin is most proud of is the way he caught the ball in tough situations. That was an aspect of his skillset that people had deemed a weakness when he was coming out of Ohio State, but McLaurin had a catch rate of 62% during the season, including several catches where he had to sacrifice his body to make the play.

McLaurin missed two games with a concussion and a hamstring issue, but he didn't miss much time outside of that. For someone who barely spent time on the sideline, McLaurin feels that his body held up well. Still, his No. 1 goal heading into the offseason is to play a complete season.

"Just try to continue to stay healthy is the biggest thing, and help our team as much as possible is something I'm trying to do," he said.

McLaurin hasn't been working out as much since the season ended, but he plans to change that soon. He wants to be in "midseason form" once the season starts in September, and he'll need the extra work. New offensive coordinator Scott Turner likes to use his receivers in different ways, McLaurin included.

"You have to be durable. There's a lot of downfield throws, a lot of running," McLaurin said. "You gotta be able to prove it in practice, so they call it in the game. That's the thing I really want to focus on in my training."

McLaurin will be training in South Florida during the offseason with several other NFL players, including Panthers' receiver Curtis Samuel, to increase his durability so he'll be ready for OTAs later in the year. Last season was a good start to McLaurin's career, but he's ready for the next one with Rivera as his new coach.

"He's kind of like me," McLaurin said of Rivera. "We're obligated to talk about it, but we're ready to get to work."