Youth and inexperience on both sides of the ball has been a constant talking point throughout the offseason for the Redskins. However, no group is more inexperienced than the wide receivers. After the release of veteran Josh Doctson, Paul Richardson and Trey Quinn were the only receivers with prior NFL snaps.
Their abilities were immediately put to the test against a stout Philadelphia Eagles defense, and the results were inspiring despite the Week 1 defeat.
“We have guys making plays all over the field," quarterback Case Keenum said ahead of the Redskins' 32-27 loss in Philadelphia. "Terry [McLaurin], Paul [Richardson Jr.], Trey [Quinn], young guys coming up. Two that have made some real big plays and made some big strides from just the spring when I've been here and even more so from the film that I watched last year on them."
McLaurin, a third-round rookie out Ohio State, is known for his speed and route running, while Kelvin Harmon, a sixth-round pick from NC State, is known for his size, physicality and ability to make contested catches. Meanwhile, undrafted rookie Steven Sims Jr. impressed coaches enough throughout training camp and the preseason to warrant a spot on the 53-man roster.
Despite not getting involved on the opening drive, Harmon made his first NFL reception on the ensuing possession, finding space and then securing the back-shoulder pass from Keenum. Later in the drive, Quinn and Richardson each made plays to move the chains. Richardson jumped in the air to snag a high pass from Keenum, while Quinn executed a whip route to shake Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby.
However, the biggest play on offense occurred early in the second quarter courtesy of McLaurin. Leading 10-0, Keenum aired out an on-target deep ball on 2nd-and-8, hitting McLaurin in stride for the walk-in 69-yard touchdown. McLaurin used his speed to blow past Eagles cornerback Rasul Douglas on a post route, and Keenum delivered.
“[Keeum] did a great job of throwing me open," McLaurin said after the game. "I wanted to keep the field so he could throw me away from the defender. I allowed my physical ability to do the rest."
Take a look at the top images from the Redskins' game against the Eagles on September 8th, 2019.
While the offense stalled in the second half, McLaurin once again proved himself to be a vertical threat. With the Redskins trailing, 20-14, in the third quarter and looking to recapture momentum, they decided to take another shot downfield. McLaurin was open, but Keenum just threw it a tad too far.
“I’d like it back," Keenum said. "It was a great play call, a great play design. We got him kind of mixed up, their coverage. Terry ran a great route.”
Despite the season-opening loss, there is plenty of reason for optimism regarding the receiving corps. Their next opportunity to showcase their talents will be in the home opener against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.