The opinions expressed in this article do not reflect those of the team.
The countdown to training camp has officially begun.
We are 16 days away from the Washington Commanders' first training camp under their new identity, giving dozens of players the chance to make their case to be on the 53-man roster. And given Ron Rivera’s belief that the team is primed to take a step forward, there will be high expectations on the third year of his tenure.
Commanders.com will be breaking down each position and how they've changed in the past year. We'll start at wide receiver, which may be one of the strongest groups on offense. The biggest story is that Terry McLaurin, who was set to hit free agency at the end of the season, was signed to a multiyear extension that ensures he will be in the DMV for the foreseeable future.
McLaurin, who has been the most consistent pass-catching option for Washington since 2019, will be surrounded by perhaps the best cast he's had in his professional career. Curtis Samuel is back from his groin and hamstring injuries, and first-round pick Jahan Dotson impressed coaches during OTAs and minicamp. Other role players like Dyami Brown and Cam Sims are expected to improve with another season under their belts.
The position feels more solidified than last season with many of the key contributors already in place. With that said, there will still be some intense competition for who will round out the group.
- Adam Humphries
- DeAndre Carter
- Jahan Dotson
- Alex Erickson
-- Terry McLaurin's next steps: Ensuring that McLaurin would be on the roster after 2022 was the move of the offseason. McLaurin has been Washington's best player since he first suited up at FedExField back in 2019, and that hasn't changed throughout that time frame. He reached his goal of recording a second straight 1,000-yard season, becoming the second fasted player in franchise history to reach 3,000 receiving yards.
McLaurin has similar goals heading into his fourth season. He wants to be recognized as one of, if not the best receiver in the NFL, and he intends to improve his ability after the catch to do so. However, despite all the individual success that McLaurin has achieved so far, postseason success has continued to elude him.
He intends to change that.
"I wanna get to the playoffs and have a chance to win a super bowl," McLaurin said. "Personally, I want to continue to try to be one of the top receivers in this league. I don't really go into this season thinking I need to have 1500 yards, this, this and this. I think truly you have the most success individually when you have the most success as a team."
-- Has Curtis Samuel returned to form?: Remember back in 2021 when everyone was so excited about what Samuel could bring to the offense? As every Washington knows, that didn't happen as expected with Samuel suffering injuries that kept him sidelined for most of the season.
Samuel's ailments are in the past, though, and he looked more like the dynamic playmaker that he was with the Carolina Panthers. He's more confident in his body, and that has shown through his speed and quickness with the ball in his hands.
There are still some questions regarding Samuel's health, which is fair considering how little he played in 2021. However, if he looks like he did in June, those concerns should quickly disappear.
-- Jahan Dotson can be a legitimate weapon:There were plenty of expectations for Dotson when the first-round pick joined the Commanders' receiving corps, and the former Penn State standout lived up to all of them.
It was a regular occurrence for Dotson to be wide open, no matter who he was lined up against. The catch radius and route running that was touted during the draft process was seen during every passing play, and he developed a strong connection with quarterback Carson Wentz.
Of course, all the plays that Dotson made were in June with no pads on, so he still has plenty to prove. With that said, things are heading in the right direction for Dotson to be a valuable asset for the offense.
What to watch
-- Can Dyami Brown take a Year 2 jump?: Samuel wasn't the only receiver to underperform in 2021. Brown, a third-round pick, was one of the best deep targets in college football, and it was expected that he would add that to a Washington offense that needed more vertical threats.
That didn't come to fruition outside of a few catches, and he finished his rookie year with 12 receptions for 165 yards.
It was a humbling experience, Brown said during OTAs, but now he's surer of himself and his place in the offense. With McLaurin absent, Brown received several starting reps, and there were moments when he looked like one of the more athletic offensive players on the field.
The Commanders have a solid trio in McLaurin, Samuel and Dotson, but if Brown can have a strong second season, it'll make the receiving corps that much more potent.