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After A Unique Offseason, Terry McLaurin Is Prepared To Be Washington's No. 1 Receiver


Terry McLaurin is not the type of person who actively seeks attention. He prefers to keep his head down and quietly go about his work.

Still, there is a certain level of respect that surrounds McLaurin these days after he put up some of the best numbers for a rookie receiver in 2019. At least that's what was conveyed to McLaurin when Odell Beckham Jr. approached him during an offseason workout. He even asked McLaurin for a few pointers while they were running routes.

"I like being around like-minded people," McLaurin told reporters Aug.13. "I like being around people who are trying to be the best, trying to perfect their craft. "Anytime I can learn from guys like that no matter who they are, I'm going to try to do [it]."

Like Beckham, McLaurin will be a No. 1 receiver this year. Fans, coaches and his teammates are all expecting him to expand his skillset and become a more dominant presence on Washington's offense. McLaurin has those same goals for himself, and that's what he has put all his effort into accomplishing this summer.

"I'm really looking forward to taking that next step and seeing what it's like being a guy that's probably more focused on by defenses, how I have to adjust my game and continue to be successful."

It's good that McLaurin is already aware that defenses are going to make containing him a priority this year, because that is exactly what wide receivers coach Jim Hostler believes as well. Hostler said there weren't any expectations on what McLaurin would be last year. That is going to change.

"You're going to get more attention," Hostler said. "His growth from year one to year two will be all about the expectations and managing them."

Hostler said McLaurin will need to expand his route tree this year, and fortunately, McLaurin has been working on that since February. Prior to the novel coronavirus being declared a national pandemic, McLaurin was at Bommarito Performance Systems in Miami, Florida, going through foot and ankle exercises to help him increase his quickness in and out of routes.

"That really helped me improve a lot," McLaurin said. "I just ran constantly outside of the facility because that's what I had to do when I got here. I've been just trying to keep my stamina up, trying to keep my routes sharp."

McLaurin's offseason plans completely changed as gyms and NFL clubs began to close their facilities. Instead of getting ready for OTAs and minicamp, where he would take the field with his new teammates to learn Scott Turner's offense, everything became virtual.

"I'm the type of guy who learns from doing the routes over and over again, so...the more mental aspects of the game is probably what I'm really going to take away from this."

These unprecedented times have taught McLaurin to just "make do with what you can." He's tried to develop a consistent routine over the summer and study the new playbook so he would be ready for training camp.

He also returned to Ashburn, Virginia, to work out with Dwayne Haskins Jr. and Steven Sims Jr., which helped them stay in shape while strengthening their chemistry.

"We just tried to continue to work, continue to learn and grow," McLaurin said in June. "I feel like we're just pushing each other...and we're just going to try to put our best foot forward and just work hard and not say too much but just work and let our play do the talking."

At the same time, Hostler was helping McLaurin add things to his skillset that will make him a better route runner. Most of it pertained to smaller details like the way McLaurin comes out of breaks that will help McLaurin run smoother on the field.

"A lot of stuff I had in mind that I wanted to do," McLaurin said, "but I didn't know quite how to do it."

That work will be useful once the regular season begins. McLaurin is undoubtedly Washington's No. 1 receiver, so his role will involve him playing as an outside and slot receiver. He will need to challenge defenders "inside and out," Hostler said, and that's where McLaurin's growth has to come.

"As far as playing outside and running some routes, you're not going to do that for the next eight years," he said. "If you're a good player and you're a No. 1 in this league, you're going to have to develop your route tree and you're going to have to go inside."

Hostler said public's expectation is for McLaurin to become a star receiver and catch 100 passes -- a feat that hasn't been accomplished in Washington since 2013. But that isn't quite what Hostler and McLaurin envision for the 2020 season. All they want is for him to improve, learn the offense and be a reliable receiver for the quarterback.

McLaurin knows he won't be a secret to defenses anymore. That's what happens when you put together one of the best rookie seasons for a receiver in franchise history. But that's fine, he said, because this offense allows more players to stand out. He doesn't feel like he has to carry the offense every week.

McLaurin's only concern is to be ready when his number is called, and all the work he has put in this offseason has been about achieving that one goal.

"We don't have any time to waste."