One week after catching seven passes for 125 yards and a touchdown against future Hall-of-Fame corner Patrick Peterson, Washington Football Team receiver Terry McLaurin has another tough challenge this Sunday when he goes up against Browns rising star defensive back Denzel Ward.
"I just think it's another fun matchup for me personally," McLaurin told local media via Zoom on Thursday. "I know week in and week out I'm going to see the best corners for those respective teams and I invite that challenge."
Going up against Ward this Sunday is not just any other matchup for McLaurin, no matter how the second-year wideout may make it sound. McLaurin and Ward were teammates for three seasons at Ohio State and constantly battled one another every day in practice.
So, when the two face off against one another come this weekend, McLaurin knows exactly what he signed up for.
"Coming from Ohio State, I've had a lot of battles with Denzel. Me and Denzel are really cool," McLaurin said. "He's a down-to-earth guy, a hard worker, and he's a competitor. I know what I'm getting myself into."
Both McLaurin and Ward have found success early in their respective careers. Ward, a first-round pick in 2018, has blossomed into one of the NFL's best young cornerbacks. McLaurin, a third-rounder by Washington one year later, has established himself as a legit No. 1 wideout in the NFL in just 16 career games.
The two are both fierce competitors, an edge that McLaurin thinks has helped both of them contribute early on at the NFL level.
"It's almost like that Spiderman meme, if you guys are familiar with it, both [guys] pointing at each other," McLaurin said. "We're both similar in that way that we think, the way that we compete and the way we want to contribute to our football team."
It's not hard to find where that competitiveness comes from, either. All you have to do is walk through the doors of Ohio Stadium in Columbus to find it.
"I think the mentality you have coming from Ohio State is just that competitiveness. You're used to competing against the best guys every single day," McLaurin said.
"You know what it's like at a college level to train like a pro, go against other pro-level players and perform when you're number is called," McLaurin said. "That was the biggest thing that was just honed into us, just not knowing when you're opportunity is going to come, just make the most of it."
However, don't think of it as a homecoming for McLaurin when Washington travels to Cleveland this weekend. Returning to the state of Ohio to play a football game is not on the wideout's mind, other than it's just another road trip for his team.
"Going back to back to Ohio, Ohio is pretty tradition-rich in football," McLaurin said. "But I don't want to make it necessarily about going back to Ohio and playing at Ohio State. It's just more so trying to get another football game under our belt and get a win."