The opinions expressed in this article do not reflect those of the team.
We are weeks away from training camp, and there are plenty of new faces gracing the Washington Football Team's roster. So Washingtonfootball.com is breaking down each position as the team prepares for Year 2 of Ron Rivera’s regime. Here are the positions we've covered so far:
Next are the wide receivers, which have been given the biggest boost in talent this offseason. Terry McLaurin was made a team captain last year and had his first 1,000-yard season as he continues to develop as a No. 1 wide receiver. He was paired with a rotating cast of pass-catchers because of injury, although there were standouts among them, most notably Cam Sims, who had more receptions (32) and yards (477) in 2020 than he did during his first two seasons.
Players like Isaiah Wright and Steven Sims Jr. will be reunited with Kelvin Harmon and Antonio Gandy-Golden, who were on Injured Reserve. What's more, newcomers like Dyami Brown, Adam Humphries and Curtis Samuel were signed to help make the offense more explosive.
There are 12 receivers on the roster and just a handful of roster spots, meaning there will be difficult decisions coming before Week 1.
- Dontrelle Inman
- Dyami Brown
- Adam Humphries
- Curtis Samuel
-- The next steps for McLaurin: McLaurin has already proven that he can be the top threat for Washington's offense, but that's not what Drew Terrell wants to see from him as he enters his third season. Instead, Terrell wants McLaurin's focus to be on living up to that standard and raising it; as he put it, his next 1,000-yard season will always be more difficult than the previous one. McLaurin has embraced that task and been more deliberate with his actions in practice and is ever mindful of how his coaches want him to improve.
One area that McLaurin wants to be better at is getting off the line of scrimmage with speed and efficiency. Terrell doesn't want McLaurin to waste any time against press coverage, and he wants his receiver to have more control over how defensive backs can cover him. Terrell can already see a difference in McLaurin's burst, and he's been impressed with how McLaurin applies smaller coaching points in practice.
"I'm two years into the league and there's a lot of film out on me now," McLaurin said. "Guys will be able to kind of match my splits and what routes I'm gonna run. But if I can win at the line, that definitely gives me an advantage."
-- A versatile No. 2 threat: The overwhelming expectation when Washington signed Samuel was that it had finally found McLaurin's running mate. Sure, Samuel can use his 4.3 speed to be a deep threat -- he was tied for first among receivers on deep targets, according to PFF -- but there is so much more to his game. He can play in the slot and even has experience in the backfield. Obviously, the coaches aren't revealing much on how they will use him, but his talents do allow them to move him around wherever they need him to be.
"I feel like that's good for an offensive coordinator just being able to scheme up defenses," Samuel said, "do different things, put defenses in positions that they don't want to be in, show them different looks, being able to go in the backfield, being able to go out in the slot."
-- What can Brown do for the offense?: There's no denying that Brown could add another dimension to Washington's offense with his ability as a deep threat being combined with the arm of Ryan Fitzpatrick. That would go a long way towards making the unit more explosive. Brown can't just be a target downfield, though, at least not all the time. He wants to develop his route tree, particularly in short to mid-range yardage situations. It's something he's already been working on, and it should help that he gets to practice with accomplished receivers like McLaurin, Samuel and Humphries. If he can develop into a more complete player, it will make those deep throws even more threatening.
"I've had limited routes, so I haven't run many digs, many slants, many curls, haven't been able to move around in the slot, run the crossing routes," Brown said. "For me, I've been working on them for the longest. I understand you have to be more than one dimensional to be successful."
What to watch
-- Who will round out the position?: It's been mentioned before, but Washington has a wealth of talent at receiver. The true competition in this group will not be at the top, where McLaurin, Samuel, Brown and Humphries will likely be; rather, it will be among players like Wright, both of the Sims, Harmon and the other players trying to carve out roles.
All of them have a case that they deserve a spot. Even Dax Milne, one of the last picks in the draft, was one of the most successful college wideouts in 2020. And they all have slightly different skills to offer, and that's a good problem to have ahead of training camp.
The reality is that some of them won't make the cut. Washington kept five receivers last year, and it's possible that they can add one or two more to that group. Either way, expect the position to be one of the most exciting to follow in August.