After two excellent seasons to begin his NFL career in Washington, wide receiver Terry McLaurin isn't sneaking up on anyone anymore.
Ahead of a Week 1 matchup with McLaurin and the revamped Washington offense, Chargers head coach Brandon Staley heaped praise on Ron Rivera's No. 1 receiver and the challenge he'll present to the Los Angeles secondary.
"I've got a lot of respect for Terry McLaurin," Staley said Monday. "Getting ready for him last year, I think this is one of the top up-and-coming receivers in the NFL. We put together a reel last year against some of the best cover corners in the NFL. We played him early last year, so we went back to the year before, but this guy's got real speed."
McLaurin went up against the Rams' former defensive coordinator in Week 5 of last season. He only recorded three catches for 26 yards, which was his third-lowest receiving output of 2020. Of course, Staley won't have Jalen Ramsey to throw at McLaurin this time around.
"He can run the route tree anywhere, outside or inside," Staley said. "He runs really hard, and what that does is it puts pressure on you every snap defensively. And I think that he's proven himself in the NFL as being an explosive playmaker. He's only going to get better and I'm a huge fan of his game. It's going to be a big challenge for us."
Washington will have many more options on offense to take the defensive attention away from McLaurin as well. Curtis Samuel and Dyami Brown should both contribute as key offseason additions while Antonio Gibson, J.D. McKissic and Jaret Patterson are a versatile group of running backs.
"These runners are really good," Staley said. "Going into the plan last year, we had respect for [Gibson and McKissic]. I think the thing about both of them -- really all three of them because they got [Patterson] who did really well in the preseason, he's a quality back as well -- they just compliment each other well. They can pass protect, they're real weapons in the backfield catching the football.
"As that season went on last year, they became more and more dangerous. I know Gibson had over 1,000 scrimmage yards and that's not surprising when we played them because those are two real assets."
Add in the fact that the offensive line is healthier and more talented than a year ago with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback instead of Alex Smith or Dwayne Haskins, and Staley won't have as easy a time game-planning for Rivera's offense in Week 1.
"When I played them last year, they weren't as healthy up front," Staley said. "Where now, they brought [Charles] Leno in from Chicago, they drafted [Sam] Cosmi in the [second] round, they get Brandon Scherff healthy. They've got a much more quality front to play against. So I expect to see a much more dangerous offense."