Terry McLaurin's first touchdown against the Dolphins on Sunday wasn't just the result of one well-executed play.
Instead, it combined intelligent film study, superb route running and excellent speed, three of the qualities that McLaurin has shown off all season long as he's establishing himself as an Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate and one of the best picks in the 2019 Draft.
Earlier in the week, the 24-year-old saw Amari Cooper run a similar route versus Miami — one that starts off looking like a crosser before a change of direction turns it into a dash to the corner — and he took note of how the defender tried to undercut it. So, he know if he sold the crosser well, he'd break free once he planted his foot in the ground.
It's one step to put in that work, though. It's a whole other step to actually carry it out on the field. But that's what McLaurin did in Week 6, and it ended up as one absolutely tremendous highlight in an overall impressive afternoon.
No. 17 would go on to find the end zone a second time in the contest, as well as secure an important, long catch late that got the Redskins off of their own goal line. After the win, the team's first in six tries as well as the first of McLaurin's pro career, he was asked if he's surprised by how effective he's been.
"Not really," he said. "I want to be a guy you can come to on third down, the clutch situations, press man. I want to develop into that."
While at the postgame podium, Bill Callahan described the way McLaurin gets open as a "work of art." Case Keenum was just as complimentary.
"He's friendly on the eyes as a QB," Keenum told reporters. "Just the body language he gives in and out of breaks, I know where he's going to be at all times."
In five contests for the Burgundy and Gold, the wideout has 23 catches for 408 yards. He's averaging 17.7 yards a grab and has nabbed five scores. He's beating guys deep, he's beating guys over the middle and he's beating the guys in contested situations.
Yet the trait everyone keeps coming back to, from coaches to teammates to analysts, fans, is his route running. Callahan comparing it to art wasn't a stretch, and Keenum calling him "friendly on the eyes" is deserved. It's top-notch already.
It's something McLaurin takes a ton of pride in, too.
"I think that's what separates good receivers from great receivers," he said.
Now, the Redskins' Week 6 victory over the Dolphins was far from flawless. In fact, if it weren't for a dropped ball on a two-point conversion attempt, it very well could've been another loss.
But while fans of the franchise may not take much comfort in the final score, they should find time to appreciate what McLaurin is doing.
He's not just an emerging star in the organization, he's an emerging star in the entire sport, and covering his rookie campaign has been a treat so far. Well, for everyone covering him except opposing defenders, of course.
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