Washington Commanders receiver Terry McLaurin entered 2023 training camp breaking in yet another quarterback.
In McLaurin's four seasons, he's played with 10 different starting QBs. The list: Case Keenum, Dwayne Haskins, Colt McCoy, Alex Smith, Kyle Allen, Taylor Heinicke, Garrett Gilbert, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Carson Wentz and Sam Howell.
Despite going through QBs quicker than an undecided undergraduate goes through majors in four years of college, McLaurin has produced. The Pro Bowler is coming off three consecutive 1,000-plus-yard seasons. Catching passes from 10 different QBs is the most by any player, with 4,000-plus receiving yards in their first four seasons.
McLaurin has one-plus receiving TD from seven different QBs in his career (most: Heinicke, eight). Only DeAndre Hopkins with Houston had one-plus receiving TDs from more different QBs (eight) than McLaurin in the first four years of his career.
At this point, McLaurin doesn't bat an eye at the prospect of building chemistry with Howell or veteran Jacoby Brissett.
"Shoot, probably about year two or year three, you know what I mean?" he said Monday when asked about when he got used to playing with a new QB, via the team's official transcript. "I kind of was like, it was a little bit of a turnover at the quarterback position, but at that point, I already had in my mind like I don't use that as an excuse as to why I don't do my job and I don't use that as a crutch to be why I'm not making plays or, you know, there's multiple quarterbacks. So I don't want to use that as a hindrance as to what that is dictates my outcome and my performance. Obviously, we know that's something that factors my position, but I've never used it as a crutch."
Howell entered camp with a path to the QB1 gig in a battle with Brissett. So far, the second-year QB has impressed, particularly with his ability to stretch the field.
"With Sam, it's been great so far," McLaurin said of the young QB. "It was good to get a feel for him, obviously in the last game against Dallas. But as we've gone over the course of this offseason, we've thrown together, we've gotten some reps out here. I think one thing that strikes me with him is we have a nuanced connection. Even with Dyami (Brown), he just has a good feel of throwing the ball down the field and we really don't have to talk about landmarks and putting air under the ball. He just has a really good feel of throwing the ball down the field and that's a strength of my game.
"I know that's a strength of a lot of our receiver's games. I think that's something that we're looking forward to trying to put on the field this year is taking those shots down the field, but also being consistent in underneath routes and spacing the ball out and things like that. So, it's been great so far and I'm excited to work with him and hopefully he's gonna be our guy for the future."
Surely during his first four years, McLaurin has thought similarly about other QBs. Remember last year, the offseason hype surrounding Wentz's redemption? Yeah, that didn't turn out too well.
The Commanders believe Howell owns a different makeup than the previous failed attempts to settle the position.
On paper, Washington boasts a talented roster that could compete in a rugged NFC East if they can get consistent play from the QB spot.
McLaurin is ready to quit having to build chemistry with a new signal-caller every six months.
"Well, everybody knows this is a quarterback-driven league and everybody's looking for their guy," he said on Monday. "And if you look at the guys who've won the Super Bowl and been consistently in the playoffs, they have that guy that they've been relying on for some time now. Obviously, we're still looking for that guy. I think we've had success. I think we've had guys come in here and help us win games and I've learned from all the guys I've gotten to play with.
"But, obviously we just want someone who's gonna be consistently out there and continue to grow with us as a group. I'm confident in the quarterbacks we have in that building right now, hopefully that's gonna be happening. And I think Sam has, like I said, done a great job of being a leader at such a young age, but he has a confidence about him that is, you can't help but to notice. So, I'm excited to work with him along with the rest of our group and our offense and we're gonna see where we're gonna go from there."
One big positive in Howell's corner heading to Week 1 is that he's smart enough to force-feed his weapons in big spots. In the QB's lone start in Week 18 versus Dallas, McLaurin and Jahan Dotson each had 70-plus receiving yards. Keep that up, and surely McLaurin will have plenty of other nice things to say as the season nears.