On Wednesday during his weekly post-practice Zoom session, Terry McLaurin looked back on a conversation he had with his position coach, Jim Hostler, at the start of the season. In that chat, Hostler explained to McLaurin how expanding his game and being able to run routes on the inside as well as the outside would in turn expand his stats.
"This is the difference between catching 60 to 80 balls to, possibly, 100 balls," McLaurin recalled the assistant telling him.
Well, Hostler sure seems prescient right about now. With five contests still remaining on the schedule, McLaurin already has 11 more grabs than he did as a rookie and he's posted seven or more receptions on seven different occasions for Washington, something he accomplished just once in 2019. Getting to triple digits is very much still in the equation.
When asked what's been the key as he's gone from successful in the NFL to successful in the NFL, McLaurin immediately identified his increased confidence in working out of the slot in addition to the trust he has in his skills along the sideline.
"Now, I would probably say I comfortably play in all three positions of this offense," he said. "I feel like Coach Turner does a really good job of moving me around. They ask a lot of me."
Before the Thanksgiving victory in Dallas, the second-year pro had registered 10 catches apiece from the left and right slot. He still gets used most often when he's in his typical far left spot, but he really loves what those interior targets do for him.
"I feel like in the slot you have a two-way go," McLaurin said. "When you're playing outside receiver, the defender kind of has the boundary to protect himself, so you have to be really particular in the way you release because it can get you out of the progression of the quarterback."
There are absolutely other factors at play as to why No. 17 is ascending into the upper echelon of pass catchers in the sport. Ron Rivera noted that McLaurin's route running has really developed compared to what he saw from McLaurin's Ohio State career, and McLaurin is quite fond of how Scott Turner's scheme favors his strengths.
His increased versatility might just be the most crucial aspect, though. To put it simply, he can see the defense more clearly now, which is why you're seeing his impact more clearly now.
"I think it gives you a bigger picture of what's going on," he said.