The reason Terry McLaurin recently earned a fresh contract with more than $50 million guaranteed is because he's grown so much as a receiver since leaving Ohio State and joining the NFL.
Yet in one respect, McLaurin actually wouldn't mind regressing to his days as a Buckeye and reintroducing a certain skill in 2022 with the Commanders.
"I've come in here wanting to be better with yards after the catch and being a guy who can stretch the field vertically and hit some of those deep balls," McLaurin told NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay in a one-on-one interview after Wednesday's opening practice of training camp.
"I think I came out of college having that, and obviously it takes time having chemistry with the quarterbacks, but I'm looking forward to trying to get back to doing those things, where you're really hitting those plays."
McLaurin is right in that he's fallen off a tad in terms of producing serious chunks. Overall, picking apart McLaurin's game in any fashion feels odd considering he's been so consistent in Washington with such inconsistent signal-calling, but he has become more of a short-to-intermediate threat since his explosive rookie campaign.
In 2019, McLaurin debuted with a 15.8-yards-per-catch average, but since then, he's posted YPCs of 12.9 and 13.7.
His yards-before-catch-per-reception, meanwhile — which measures where he is at the point of the grab before he runs upfield — has also decreased compared to 2019. In his first year, he was at 12.1, which he's followed up with outputs of 7.4 and 9.6.
Lastly, his yards-after-catch number really dipped in 2021 after a superb 2020 in that regard. Two seasons ago, he was 10th in the entire sport with 490 YAC. Last season, he was 55th with 317.
To McLaurin's credit, he's gotten much better at being a steady, week-to-week factor, and the guy remains capable of starring in a ridiculous highlight each time he's the intended target. What he might lack in field-flipping strikes, he makes up for with chain-moving snags, particularly of the contested variety.
He's not content with all that he's added to his repertoire, however. To him, he's searching for what's missing so his unit "doesn't necessarily take 10, 15, 20 plays to score."
Well, in his initial official practice with Carson Wentz, McLaurin achieved exactly that when he hauled in a lofted toss from Wentz as he was running a lengthy corner route. Wentz laid it out for him at least 30 yards beyond the line of scrimmage and, thanks to a last-second adjustment, McLaurin secured the throw.
"Well, I'll say this," Ron Rivera told reporters when reflecting on that sequence. "Just watching Terry go deep and catch the ball the way he did ... If anybody's wondering why we [extended his contract], that to me is the perfect example of why we did it."
And if McLaurin has his way, it will be far from the last example of him generating yards this year in a hurry.