Terry McLaurin ‘Preparing’ for Different Roles in Commanders Offense

Terry McLaurin

Getty Terry McLaurin is "preparing" to play different roles for the Washington Commanders.

He’s been the sole consistent factor for several struggling Washington Commanders’ offenses, but Terry McLaurin is ready to expand his role. Playing for new offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury could see the four-time 1,000-yard wide receiver line up in different spots, and McLaurin is busy preparing for the challenge.

That’s what he told reporters after a minicamp session on Tuesday, June 11, per Ben Standig of The Athletic. Specifically, McLaurin outlined the work he’s doing to become well-versed in every aspect of Kingsbury’s schemes: “(Kliff) likes to push the ball down the field,” McLaurin said. “He likes to be balanced (in play calling) to give different looks to a defense. … We’re going to use motion, move some guys around.”

Extended use of motion, along with more shape-shifting of personnel and formations could mean big changes for McLaurin. As Standig noted, “McLaurin, historically the ‘X’ receiver, said he’s also preparing for the ‘Z’ and slot roles because Kingsbury’s formations may cause him to land in those spots.”

Playing the ‘X’ receiver has meant living on the perimeter, but a roving brief can make McLaurin even more effective. So can improving in another key area of his game.

Terry McLaurin Ready for More Variety in Kliff Kingsbury’s Offense

Operating out of the slot has been far from the norm for McLaurin. He spent a mere 12.3 percent of his snaps lined up inside last season, according to Player Profiler.

It’s a waste of a wideout with the play speed and core strength to win consistently between the numbers. McLaurin didn’t get many opportunities from the slot last season, but he burned the Philadelphia Eagles on this play in 2022, highlighted by Nicki Jhabvala of The Washington Post.

Kingsbury’s predecessor Eric Bieniemy didn’t move McLaurin around as much. Preferring instead to rely on McLaurin’s noted knack for snatching big catches outside the hashmarks.

This touchdown catch against the Eagles last season, illustrated by Next Gen Stats, showcased McLaurin’s talent for attacking the sideline.

The problem with keeping McLaurin outside so often is defenses find it easier to locate and double Washington’s most dynamic receiver. It also limits McLaurin’s opportunities to boost his numbers in one area where he’s seeking improvement.

Commanders’ Top Target Wants More YAC

Regardless of where he lines up, McLaurin is determined to amass more yards after the catch. He admitted, “It’s a balance for me because I always want to protect the football. That’s my No. 1 objective when I’m carrying the ball. At the same time, if you can make one or two (defenders) miss, you get three and four extra yards. Those add up over the course of a game. Elite receivers do that at a high level,” per Standig.

That’s a typically honest and thoughtful assessment from a player who takes his profession seriously. McLaurin will know how moving around formations more often will give him better chances to turn short catches into longer gains.

It’s not as if the 28-year-old isn’t adept at slipping or breaking a tackle or two. Like he did for this catch and run against the Tennessee Titans in 2022, highlighted by analyst Mark Bullock.

Plays like this one prove McLaurin can boost the 4.4 yards after catch per reception average and four broken tackles he posted last season, per Pro Football Reference.

A lot will depend on how Kingsbury deploys No. 17. The play-caller didn’t always get creative with then-star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins when Kingsbury was head coach of the Arizona Cardinals.

Kingsbury eventually did move Hopkins around, putting him in the slot 27 times against the New Orleans Saints two seasons ago, according to Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus.

Kingsbury needs a varied plan for McLaurin, who sounds eager to embrace a more nuanced workload.

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