New Washington Football Team cornerback William Jackson III saw firsthand in 2020 how talented Terry McLaurin is.
The two squared off last November when Jackson was a member of the Cincinnati Bengals, a game Washington won, 20-9. Jackson shadowed McLaurin for much of the contest, yet for the most part, Washington's star wideout got the better of the cornerback. McLaurin finished the game with five catches for 84 yards, with 77 of them coming with Jackson as the primary defender.
Now teammates in Washington, the two have had some competitive battles through the first week of training camp. Speaking with reporters following practice on Monday, Jackson said he thinks No. 17 has gotten "way better" since the two battled last season.
“He has gotten way better, man," Jackson said. "We both got better. He’s making me better; I'm making him better and we just out there competing and having fun."
As for where specifically the cornerback noticed a major difference in the rising third-year pass-catcher, Jackson pointed to McLaurin's quick releases at the line of scrimmage.
“His releases are definitely better. Way better since I played him last year," Jackson said. "He’s doing sudden moves, he gives you a little something at the line so he’s making it harder for DBs.”
During the early portion of training camp, pads aren't allowed. In fact, Tuesday will mark the first time Washington practices in pads this year. So, what tends to be the most interesting part of early camp practices are the 1-on-1s between wideouts and defensive backs.
Those battles between McLaurin and Jackson have been the highlight of the individual matchups so far. Fans often overreact to practice reps in July and early August, but Jackson is focused on using each one of those battles to try and get better.
"The fans are making it a big deal, but it's funny to me because we play each other, but it's fun," Jackson said. "We just go out there and compete. If I did something wrong, I let him know that, hey, I did that wrong here. He’d tell me if he did something wrong, so we just out there competing.”
The phrase 'iron sharpens iron' is often an overused cliche, but it's the perfect description for what McLaurin and Jackson are doing thus far during training camp. Both players will greatly benefit from these competitive reps in training camp when the real action begins in September.
Yet, while both McLaurin and Jackson are focused on getting themselves and one another better with these reps, the cornerback admitted there's been a tad of friendly banter during them, too.
“It’s fun, man. He talks a little noise, but it'd be low though. You would have to be really close to hear, but we are talking a little noise," Jackson said. "He's a great receiver and I'm just out here getting better every day. I'm getting him better; he’s getting me better. It's nothing like playing two good people in one position out there competing.”