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WFT Daily: 'Scary Terry's' Contested Catch Rate Proves 'He's Not Ever Really Covered'

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Terry McLaurin looks down the line of scrimmage before the offense runs a play against the Buffalo Bills on Sept. 26, 2021. (Emilee Fails/Washington Football Team)

The regular season is here, and we have you covered as the Washington Football Team progresses through its second season under head coach Ron Rivera. Stay up to date with "WFT Daily," which comes out every weekday evening.

Taylor Heinicke is not one to overdress during press conferences. One day he'll be wearing a plain t-shirt. The next day, it will be a NASA shirt.

This time, when Heinicke stepped up to the podium to address the media on Wednesday, he wore a shirt that featured Terry McLaurin wearing a Jason Voorhees hockey mask.

"I just envisioned myself being a corner, being one on one," Heinicke said. "I think that would be a scary deal."

McLaurin has been particularly scary to start Year 3. He's made 19 catches for 231 yards, which leads the team, and has a catch rate of 76%. And in terms of contested catches, there's no one better with seven grabs. It's evidence that even though defenses are determined to stop him, he still finds a way to impact games.

"The guy runs beautiful routes," Heinicke said. "He's fast and when the ball's in his hands, he makes things happen. So 'Scary Terry' has a nice little ring to it."

The stat should not be surprising to anyone who has watched Washington's go-to receiver over the past three seasons. He led all receivers with a 68.4% contested catch rate in 2019. That number dipped slightly in 2020, but with a drop rate of just 2.2%, he showed that if a pass touches his hands, it's a sure bet he'll make the catch.

In typical McLaurin fashion, the Ohio State product still wanted those numbers to improve, and he gave fans a taste of that offseason work in the season opener against the Los Angeles Chargers with his incredible sideline catch with a defender diving for the ball.

For DeAndre Carter, who has only worked with McLaurin since OTAs, it didn't take long to see how special McLaurin can be.

"He works every day," Carter said. "I don't think I've seen too many people make contested catches like that."

None of McLaurin's contested grabs has been at that level, but he's performed as expected from a No. 1 receiver and team captain. Pro Football Focus has given him the second-highest grade for contested catches through three games. In the second quarter of Washington's Thursday night game against the New York Giants with the team down 7-0, Heinicke turned to McLaurin at the Giants' 27-yard line. McLaurin was hit immediately after the ball touched his hands, but he tucked it in long enough to complete the catch.

McLaurin made a leaping catch in the end zone one play later to cap off the drive as part of an 11-reception, 107-yard night.

"He's not ever really covered," said offensive coordinator Scott Turner. "I mean, sometimes guys can cover him, obviously. You get a one-on-one opportunity more often than not, he's going to bring the ball down. He's shown it. Some of the ones that he's made over the first couple of games were pretty unbelievable."

McLaurin's production against the Buffalo Bills was somewhat lessened -- it was still a solid afternoon with four receptions for 62 yards -- but he was still a reliable target for Heinicke. Some of his more impressive grabs included a 10-yard reception on the sideline and a 37-yarder in the fourth quarter that put Washington in position for a Logan Thomas touchdown.

Looking ahead to the Atlanta Falcons, there should be plenty of chances for McLaurin to have another big day. The Falcons have six defensive backs who have allowed a passer rating of at least 100.0 when quarterbacks throw in their direction, and five of those players have allowed a completion rate of at least 60%. That means McLaurin will be one the prowl to put up even scarier numbers.

"He's strong and he's competitive," Turner said. "When the ball is in the air, he's going to go fight for it and get it. It's a good thing to know for me, and then also for the quarterbacks."

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