Jahan Dotson entered the NFL with a chip on his shoulder, and it apparently hasn't gone anywhere -- even after his strong rookie season with the Washington Commanders.
But Dotson didn't mince words when it came to his own motivation this season, explaining why he "100 percent" has kept that shoulder chip prominently displayed.
"Honestly, I think it's from me watching TV, and honestly, we live in the age of the internet, so you always see these sports analysts talking about this guy is bound for a breakout season, and this guy's gonna do this, and this guy's gonna do that," Dotson said. "I'm never mentioned, and I keep that in the back of my head. That's what I work for. They don't say my name, and that's what I want. I take it personal."
The No. 16 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, Dotson still feels like he was overlooked coming out. He credits his early season success as a rookie -- two touchdowns in Week 1, four in the first four games -- to being motivated to prove his doubters wrong.
"That's why last year, when I felt like they passed up on me in the draft, all those teams, I had to make them feel me," he said. "I felt like I had to make them respect me. I felt like I wasn't getting the respect that I needed. I had to make them respect me."
But that was when Dotson was derailed with a hamstring injury he suffered in Washington's Week 4 loss to the Cowboys. He'd miss five games before returning and caught only two passes in his first three back.
A strong finish, however, with 21 catches for 344 yards and three TDs in his final five games put Dotson back on the right track. The Washington wideout said he "could've probably had 12, 12-plus" touchdowns last year had he been injury-free.
In Dotson's mind, it sets him up for even loftier heights in Year 2.
"Honestly, I feel like this is my breakout year," Dotson said. "It's what I've been working hard for, and I've got to make them feel me."
If that breakout season happens, some of the credit should go to McLaurin, who Dotson believes makes a WR duo with him that puts them "right at the top" in the NFL. Throw in third receiver Curtis Samuel, and that position is arguably the team's greatest strength.
But there are other questions on offense. It's likely that either Sam Howell or Jacoby Brissett will be the team's starting quarterback, and both could see time this season. There also could be an adjustment period as the offensive players adapt to a new coordinator in Bieniemy.
"We're getting our playmakers in space," he said. "That's the biggest thing. We're getting the ball in guys' hands and letting them do what God made them to do."