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Interview: Washington Football WR Terry McLaurin

ASHBURN, VA -- August 13, 2020, Washington Football Team wide receiver Terry McLaurin speaks to the media.

On being prepared for the season:

“I feel like I’m really prepared for the season. The Zoom meetings have helped a lot. It’s kind of tough on us having a new staff on both sides of the ball. I feel like as professionals you have to adapt, and I feel like they did a good job of giving us as much information as possible while we were away from the building. Once we were in the facility, they’ve pretty much been full speed ahead. The offense has been pretty smooth so far, learning. I really like it a lot, the aggressiveness and the unpredictability and the possibilities that are there for us are great. I’m looking forward to continuing to grow in the offense.”

On the receivers:

“We’ve got a lot of improving guys, but that doesn’t mean that the production should be lower than anticipated or anything like that. I feel like we’re coming in with a group that doesn’t necessarily have that comradery yet, but that’s what training camp is for. That’s where you grow those bonds. That’s where you grow the trust in each other, that’s where the quarterbacks grow trust in us. And that’s what it’s about at the end of the day, trying to make their jobs easier. Having WR Dontrelle [Inman] coming in has been great, he kind of gives us that veteran presence. He’s seen a lot of football in his career. Losing WR Kelvin [Harmon] was tough, but we have a lot of guys ready to step up and make a name for themselves, myself included. Just continuing to try to build on what I did last year and improve even more, moving around more in this offense.”

On what he worked on in the offseason to improve:

“Before the coronavirus kind of hit, I was in Miami, Florida at Bommarito [Performance Systems] working on a lot of foot, ankle mobility things that can help me get out of my routes a lot cleaner, a lot quicker. That really helped me improve a lot. I just ran constantly outside of the facility because that’s what I had to do when I got here. I’ve been just trying to keep my stamina up, trying to keep my routes sharp. [Wide receivers] Coach [Jim] Hostler has done a good job of trying to add things to my game that I feel like I can incorporate this year and make me a better route runner, the way he teaches coming out of your break and things like that. A lot of stuff I had in mind that I wanted to do, but I didn’t know quite how to do it. So, he’s done a good job of helping us think of better ways to come out of our routes.”

On training during the pandemic:

“Going into the offseason I kind of had a plan where right after the Super Bowl I was going to start training, so I was training for a good month and a half that Wednesday after the Super Bowl. I came back to Indianapolis and was training a facility near home for a while, and then they kind of said, ‘OK we’re going to be virtual.’ And that was kind of weird for me because I was expecting to come back and be ready for OTAs and Mini Camp and get ready to learn the new offense and stuff like that. I’m the type of guy who learns from doing the routes over and over again, so taking the virtual approach, the more mental aspects of the game is probably what I’m really going to take away from this. You’ve really got to work the game mentally as well as physically when you necessarily can’t do as much physically, you’ve just got to make do with what you can. I’m trying to stay consistent. Trying to find a routine that really works for you is something that I really tried to hone in on during this uncertain time.”

On throwing with QB Dwayne Haskins in the offseason:

“I think Dwayne did a really good job of leading us and coordinating all the type of throwing sessions we had whether it was here, I know I went a couple places with him and he was throwing. That really helps the chemistry. I feel like that really helped us come in on a good start running routes. While we may not necessarily be 100 percent honed on what spots we’re looking for, what spots they’re looking for in this new offense, that connection between wide receiver and quarterback was there. I feel like between me and Dwayne, me and WR Steven [Sims] and a lot of other guys as well, there were a lot of guys that got work in with him during the offseason as well. That’s a credit to him for getting us all together and I feel like that really helped us get off on the right foot.

On WR Antonio Gandy-Golden: “He’s very athletically gifted. He jumps pretty much out of the gym. I would say his ability to move at that size is really, really impressive. I think he plays faster than he may look on a time watch. The best advice I’d tried to give to him is, first of all, know what you’re doing. You can’t play fast if you don’t know what you’re doing. I know it’s a lot. Ask questions if you don’t know. And then just come in here and compete for a spot. As a rookie, you don’t have to watch on the sidelines all year. Whether it’s special teams or a prominent role on our offense, you have an opportunity to do that and you dictate that at this level. It’s the way that you prepare, it’s the way that you perform out there on the field and you gain that trust from your coaches and your teammates. He’s kind of a quiet kid, but he tries to do everything right so that’s all you can ask. I think he’s going to do pretty well here.”

On having a full-team practice with helmets:

“It was nice to get back out there with a helmet on now. You kind of must get used to that conditioning part of it. But it was fun to be out there, just building on what we’ve been building on so far. Our schedule’s going to switch up a little bit going forward. I think things have been smooth. This staff has done the best job that they could, making us comfortable with the scheduling but also make sure we’re prepared come practice time. I feel like there’s a lot of organization going on here and it makes our job a lot easier knowing what we’re doing when we get out there.”

On messages Head Coach Ron Rivera gave in practice:

“He hit us with a pretty big message this morning, not to get all the way into it. But just the way that we come out onto the field every day is something that we can control. Our attitude, our preparation and our effort are some things we can control on a day-to-day basis and we’re going to be a physical football team that attacks people on both sides of the ball and it starts out front with our offensive and defensive line. That’s what you want to hear out of a coach. That’s kind of what I’ve been accustomed to with my background with football, just that attack style of play. I think it’s going to suit us well as long as everyone continues to do what we’ve been doing so far, allowing ourselves to be coached and continue working to be better. I feel like we can make the strides necessary to be ready for Week 1.”

On the Big Ten Conference cancelling its football season:

“It’s very disappointing. People don’t appreciate how much time and effort that’s put in by the players, the coaches, the support staff, to make the season happen. A lot of guys have a future in football, and some guys this might be their last hurrah. You can’t quantify what that means to a team and a program to have a season taken away from you. Granted, there are some things that are obviously out of our control with the pandemic going on. But, I feel like just as players they were hoping to hear that their voices were heard. I don’t know if they were or not. But they kind of wanted to just have some say in that. I know some things may be out of their control, but at the end of the day there are risks. They made a decision that they made, hopefully something can work out where it works out for both sides, but I definitely feel very disappointed for those guys. Especially for the seniors.”

On if the uncertainty of college football is raising concerns for the NFL season:

“To be honest, it hasn’t even come up. The way Coach Rivera has approached it is we’re going until they tell us to stop. Even if they don’t tell us to stop. We’re full speed ahead. We’re preparing as if we’re getting ready for the Eagles Week 1, and I feel as if that’s how it’s going to stay until we’re told otherwise. I feel like our organization has done a great job of putting the necessary steps and protocols to the best of their abilities up to this point. So as far as players, our job is just to follow those protocols as close as possible and see where we’re at after that.”

On getting more speed on the team: “We’ve been kind of separated, offense versus defense. When we start going one side versus the other side, I think we’ll get a really good feel for that. We have a lot of playmakers on both sides of the ball. Obviously our defensive line jumps out, where that will start with them and then our offensive line, they’re trying to put a great group up there forward to try to help Dwayne in the pass game and in the run game. I feel like they’re doing a really good job. They have some veteran leadership and they’re going to be set to go. I know on the offensive side of the ball, we’ve got a lot of skill players that are moving around a lot. That’s kind of like they’re mantra coming from Carolina. Going forward, I feel like it comes down to making those plays and I feel like they’re going to put us in those situations to make those plays, but I can’t really quite tell you can I feel the speed yet until we go against each other.”

On Haskins’s changed demeanor:

“I’ve said numerous times, I’ve been around Dwayne a long time, and not that he hasn’t been working hard previously, but it’s just a different type of attentiveness, a different type of attention to detail that he’s approached this whole offseason since day one all the way dating back to the end of the season. I feel like he’s not going to give himself too much credit, he knows that he’s got to put that product on the field now that we’re practicing once we starting going against the defense into the games. But, I feel like he’s taken the right necessary steps, to be honest, with his physical, his mental. I’m excited to see what he does in this offense, an offense that I feel like suits his skillset really well. I hope he just takes it day by day, continues to learn and hopefully he’ll be where we all need him to be.”

On not having fans in Washington this season:

“That’s tough. I’ve never necessarily played a game in front of no fans. But like I said, at the end of the day it’s what’s in the best interest of all of us. I feel like that keeps our fans safe, that keeps us safe and our staff. It’s just a bummer that it has to be that way, but we appreciate the support that we get through social media, the support that we get through fan mail. I hope our fans still feel like they can be engaged and a part of our season this year because we do need them and appreciate them. Hopefully, when the safety protocols are at the appropriate time that we can get fans back into our stadium.”

On QBs Kyle Allen and Alex Smith:

“It’s kind of nice to have Kyle as well as Dwayne. Even though Kyle gets some of the first-team reps as well, he’s comfortable in this offense and that helps a receiver like me. I know there’s a couple plays where he’s looking to throw me the ball and I’m not necessarily looking yet, but that’s just a new nuance that he’s comfortable in in this offense. I had to get that timing in with him and the other quarterbacks. So, it’s nice to have a quarterback who’s been in this offense, who’s comfortable and knows what it’s supposed to look like and can run that. Alex is a cool dude. He doesn’t really say much, but you can always feel his presence when he’s on the field. He’s working his butt off just to get back and play at that high level again. It’s just a testament to his hard work and faith and his support system to see him come this far. I’m going to continue to cheer him on and hopefully he can get out there with us and compete with the other guys.”

On the team removing old logos across the facility:

“To be honest, you haven’t really noticed the change too much except for the logo because our colors are the same as of now. That’s been a nice sight. It’s kind of different, I’ve got to put the old stuff that I had in my closet away and just get used to the stuff we have now. We’re just looking forward to the future, to be honest. We’re not so wrapped up in the name with what’s going on. I know the people who are in charge of that are going to take care of it. Our job is just to try to continue to get better and represent that name whenever it comes out.”

On if he ever slips up using the former team name:

“I’ll be honest, sometimes, but for the most part ‘Washington Football Team’ is pretty easy to remember. You’ve just got to try to remember the last part isn’t a part of who we are anymore. But, for me I have so much gear now it’s just kind of not wearing that gear and wearing the gear that we have incorporated. As far as the logo, you don’t really see it too much around the building anymore.”

On representing Eastern Motors in Washington:

“I’m looking forward to really learning more about Eastern Motors and what they mean to the community. It’s an honor to be a guy who’s not even from the area, a second-year player now, to be thought of to represent their dealership and their company. I’m excited to learn more about what they do and what they mean to the community and do my best to represent them and as well as this football team. It’s kind of my first opportunity to do that, so I’m looking forward to seeing what it holds.”

On working out with Browns receiver Odell Beckham Jr.:

“He actually came up and talked to me for a while. I’m kind of a guy who just lays back a little bit, so I just try to get my work in and not do too much. He came up and told me he respects my game and he asked me while we were running routes to give him any tips that I may have seen in what he’s doing and I asked the same. I like being around likeminded people. I like being around people who are trying to be the best, trying to perfect their craft along with [Giants receiver] Sterling Shepard. Those are two guys who have had some success in the league so far. Anytime I can learn from guys like that no matter who they are, I’m going to try to do. Just obviously the way he runs his route is very smooth and fluid, and his radius is impressive as well. The biggest thing I probably took away was probably his suddenness, but he’s not in a hurry the way he runs his routes. So, I’m continually working on that right now—using my speed but having control in the way that I’m coming in and out of my routes.”

On his impressions on Coach Rivera as a leader:

“I feel like his first step was his honesty. I feel like there’s a transparency with him that’s very refreshing. I feel like he has that open-door policy that he talks about. If we have players on this team that feel like they need to talk to them, then he’s doors open to them. I feel like his main objective is just discipline, respect and just playing hard. I feel like if you have these three things, you shouldn’t have any problem with Coach Rivera and I feel like you could grow that relationship with him. Since I met him when he first got here, he’s been nothing but open and honest with me. He’s checked in on me in the offseason, asked how my family’s been doing. The social justice issues that’s been going on, he’s seen how I’ve been feeling about that. He’s a very personable person, but when he gets on that field you know he means business and you know what he expects from us. When you have a coach, who’s clear in what they want, it’s pretty easy you’d think as a player to follow that because you’re either following that or you’re not. So, I feel like that clear, conciseness that he has is very helpful for us all.”

On if the culture in Washington feels different:

“A lot of this is new for me as well because it’s only my second year, so I knew how much the old name and logo meant for people around us. But change is not necessarily a bad thing, and I feel like Coach Rivera is a great person to kind of help us go toward that change and the new future and new culture. So far so good in my opinion. It’s just a matter of us players following his plan and trusting what he’s trying to do here.”

On trying out face shields for the season:

“I was going to try to wear a visor today. It had a little bit of glare on it, the pink one. I’m going to try to use the clear one tomorrow. I’ve worn a visor in the past. I feel like it’s all off of comfortability. Like I said, I don’t think as far as the pandemic is concerned, you can completely eliminate the risk. I feel like you can try to mitigate it as much as possible. I feel like the visors come down to a personal preference. I’m going to see how I like it in practice the next couple weeks and go from there.”

On attacking more on offense:

“I think it’s versatility, I think it’s unpredictability. I think it’s those two terms mainly and just tempo as well. I feel like when you’re on offense, you should be dictating the tempo. You should decide when you guys get up to the line, when you’re snapping the play, when you’re calling audibles and running motions and things like that. I feel like play action on first downs, running on downs you feel like you maybe shouldn’t be running on. It’s just some things that [offensive coordinator Scott] Turner does a great thing on, that versatility and unpredictability so far in practice and we haven’t even gone against the defense yet. So, I’m really excited to see his style of play calling and how it works against our defense in the game. Just that attack mindset, it starts obviously up front with how we run the ball with obviously [RB] Adrian Peterson and the group of guys we have on the offensive line. And then our skill players we have on the outside making plays, and I feel like that really opens up our offense because I feel like you can’t really key in on one thing or the other. As far as the defensive side of the ball, the way our defensive line is touted right now I feel like they can really pose a lot of problems for a lot of teams if they’re on that attack mindset which I know they are so far. The guys behind them are doing a really great job of playing off of them and learning as well. Just the physicality and the attack mindset is what Coach Rivera has been preaching so far.”

On if he thinks they will be a more up-tempo offense this year:

“I definitely do. I feel like it’s a very concise offense to the point where you really don’t have to do a lot of thinking, you just have to know where you are on the field. That really helps receivers, skill players, and I feel like it really helps the quarterback as well. I know some things will be dictated from a schematic standpoint of, we want to do tempo here or there. And then just the flow of the game, how the flow of the game is going for us from possession to possession I think will dictate the tempo a lot. But I have heard Coach Turner speak numerous occasions on having some tempo the way we get in the huddle, the way we get the play so the quarterback has enough time to assess what’s going on defensively.”

On what he has done to help navigate the unique circumstances of this offseason:

“I think the biggest thing I try to tell people and what works for me is to find what works for you and stick to it as much as possible. Find some consistency in your day where you can count on day in and day out—this is when I eat breakfast, this is when I have some down time and this is what I like to do. Just have a plan of what you want to do and what you want to get done throughout a day, and then try to stick to that as much as possible. And then try to keep your mind open for things that may be out of your control, things that you didn’t necessarily prepare for. That’s something that I try to work on, and still working on. I’m such a planner, if things go right outside my plan then I’m kind of scrambling a little bit. It’s just a matter of having a routine and sticking to that. I try to get here and take care of my body, stretch, before practice. After practice I try to get in the cold tub and do things that almost seem monotonous, but when you look up, you have a really solid routine and you get in a pretty good flow of things.”

On having a supportive head coach:

“It’s great to have a head coach who stands in what he believes in, who’s honest in what he believes in and will admit fault when it’s his fault. That’s a sign of a man, first, and then a great coach secondly. I feel like we can learn from him, but it takes us as well to buy into that. The same things that he’s giving us is the same things he’s expecting from us in return. I feel like we’ve got a good group of guys in our locker room with a lot of veteran presence who’s played a lot of good football and a good nucleus of young guys as well looking to make a name for themselves as well. So, I feel like we’ve got a good mixture of both and a great coaching staff to go with it.”

On what he wants to accomplish this season:

“First of all, my first thing is I just want to stay healthy and play all 16 games. So, that’s my first and foremost plan. I do a great job, I feel like, of taking care of my body and trying to be as available as possible for our team. I don’t shy away from being a guy who I feel like is going to be depended on this year, a guy who is going to be a go-to guy. But, coming along with that is an extreme amount of responsibility. Just preparation. I feel like I’ve got to take that up to the next level, the way I study. I feel like I’m not going to be a secret anymore to any defenses. But that’s okay. I feel like the offense that we have allows a lot of us to make plays, and I don’t necessarily have to be a guy with 13, 14, 15 targets a game and we can still have success. Just being ready when my number is called, being ready to move inside and learn the inside route tree and learn more on the outside route tree is something that I’m going to continue to work on until we get to Philly.”

On fishing as a hobby of his and how it relates to football:

“I’ve been into fishing for a very long time. My first fishing trip was probably with my uncle. Maybe I was eight or nine. I just really love fishing. I tell my friends all the time, it’s fun just to be out there in nature, just being, enjoying the scenery. It’s a time you can really reflect on your life, reflect what’s going on and how you can either improve or help somebody else’s life be better. When you start catching fish, I feel like that’s the fun part. I say, ‘Sometimes you get the fish, sometimes they get you.’ I’ve had multiple bites that have come off, and a part of letting that go so you have a fishhook and let it go, it can be disappointing. It can be something that can really hinder you from catching the next fish, but if you let it go, see what you did wrong and then try to be better and catch the next one, then that’s when I feel like you’re making progress. It’s the same thing with the field. You may not make every play, you may not make every route perfect, but if you learn from your mistakes and you continue working to improve and not try to stay the same, I feel like you’re going to have success. I feel like that correlation, that analogy is really what helps me. Fishing is just something I like to do to just calm my mind and do something outside of football when I’m away.”

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