Terry McLaurin started his offseason workouts three days after the Super Bowl, which some people told him was too soon. Let your body rest, they said. But after a rookie season in which the Washington Redskins wide receiver shocked many around football with 58 catches for 919 yards and seven touchdowns, he didn’t want to stop; he wanted to push harder.
“I feel I still have a lot of things I want to try and improve on, and I feel I didn’t have any time to waste,” he said Thursday on a video conference call with reporters.
In the end, he said, he was happy he chose to start early because he felt he had gotten “two solid months” of work in before the coronavirus pandemic forced most gyms and workout facilities to close.
This year is different for McLaurin, who often was overshadowed at Ohio State and was expected to be more of a special-teams player when the Redskins took him in the third round of last year’s NFL draft. His explosion has many around the league considering him to be one of the game’s best young receivers. And yet there remains a part of McLaurin that worries he won’t be a surprise anymore, he said, so he has spent the winter and spring trying to challenge himself.
“I just continue to want to be that guy when on third down there’s no confusion who the ball’s coming to,” he said. “ . . . But that comes with work. That comes with timing.”
He has a list of things he thinks he can do better. He believes the best teams are those that have a receiver who can win one-on-one battles with defenders. Even in his last year in college he spent hours trying to become better at contested catches, or what some in the NFL like to call “50-50 balls” — those plays on which receivers and defenders have an equal opportunity to come down with the ball.
McLaurin also went to Florida, where he worked out with, among others, New York Jets running back Frank Gore, who has 15,347 career rushing yards over 15 seasons and seems unwilling to stop despite being 37 years old. McLaurin likened it to being with his Redskins teammate Adrian Peterson, another mid-30s running back who takes a similar, relentless approach to his offseasons. McLaurin was proud when Gore asked him to come back, taking the invitation as a sign that he had earned Gore’s respect.
“I try to come in with a mentality I can’t afford to lose, in a sense,” McLaurin said. “ . . . You can’t afford to lose too many reps, if any at all. You really got to train your mind, train your body to win all that time at everything you do. I try to train that way. I try to run routes that way. I try to visualize that way and in the mental side of the game, and study yourself and your opponent.”
He has had two personal talks with the Redskins’ new offensive coordinator, Scott Turner, and said he is excited about Turner’s offense, which is designed to push the ball downfield. “Receiver-friendly,” McLaurin calls it. Already he has grasped the offense’s concepts, and he wants to be able to try them on the field when the team practices again at this summer’s training camp.