The Washington Commanders held their fifth practice of training camp today, and WR Terry McLaurin and DE Montez Sweat stepped up to the microphone today. McLaurin acknowledged that the offense had some things to clean up from Saturday’s practice, but said players are studying Eric Bieniemy’s offense to iron out the details. Sam Howell isn’t afraid to throw the it and he’s got a really nice deep ball. “I know he still has time to grow, but that comes with us rallying around him and doing our job to make his job easier.”
Montez Sweat talked about maturing since he came into the league, and how his perspective on the game has changed. He knows that how you affect the overall game is more important than individual stats. Sweat is playing on the 5th-year option, and will be a free agent unless the Commanders sign him to a contract extension or use the franchise tag on him. He said he has talked to Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne and got their advice on playing your way into a big deal. Sweat spent the offseason with Chase Young and also visited Ohio State DL Coach Larry Johnson.
LIVE: WR Terry McLaurin speaks to the media after the first practice of Week 2 of camp https://t.co/FCNVFgeBqe— Washington Commanders (@Commanders) July 31, 2023
I think we’re making some growth steps. I feel like Saturday we had some little things to clean up, taking care of the ball and depths of routes, just the nuances of the offense. But I don’t think guys are having a lot of MAs, which is really good. Means guys are doing the studying at night. We’re taking what we’re learning in the installs to the field. So, it’s just little details, which is what training camp is for so we can iron those things out before we start playing games. So far, I like the tempo in which we’re going with and the attitude that we’re approaching practice. That’s a good foundation to start with.
Terry McLaurin has played with a lot of different QB's in Washington.— Scott Abraham (@Scott7news) July 31, 2023
That doesn't bother him.
Terry said, "This is a QB driven league. Everybody is looking for their guy. We're still looking for that guy. I think Sam has done a great job of being a leader at such a young age." pic.twitter.com/mke8cDERnV
McLaurin says Howell “throws a real nice deep ball”— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) July 31, 2023
Terry McLaurin on the QBs: "This is a QB driven league; everyone is looking for that guy...We're still looking for that guy. We want someone to be consistent and grow with us. Sam has done a great job being a leader at a young age. He has a confidence you can't help but notice."— John Keim (@john_keim) July 31, 2023
It’s going well. I think he’s, obviously has a lot on his plate learning the offense. Has to go through the reads and as a leader, I’m just trying to be where I need to be, make sure my timing, my spacing is correct. And coach Bobby is doing a great job of echoing that with the receivers. And I think we make his job easier by being where we need to be so he doesn’t have to worry about not only the checks, the reads, getting the call in, but getting my guys and I at the right depth. So I mean, I’m taking ownership of that. We’re all still learning the offense, but one thing about him, he’s not afraid to throw the ball down the field, which is exciting. He’s gonna give guys a chance to make the play down the field and he throws a really nice deep ball. So, he’s growing. I like how he’s doing and how he’s communicating with us as well.
How QB Sam Howell has handled himself:
Yeah, to be honest, you really don’t even see him get flustered even when he’s had a few, maybe rough patches during practice. He doesn’t hang his head. He’s not yelling, cussing things like that. He said he’s pretty even keel, which is really unique for a young guy like that. And, not only that, I think that struck me in the Dallas game ‘cause we had a turnover, but he still wasn’t afraid to push the ball down the field. And I think with this being a a passing league, you still gotta stay aggressive. It’s really cool to see a young guy who’s not afraid to continue to give his guys catches or guys opportunities down the field. because at the end of the day, our receivers and our group is gonna have to fight through some adversity.
The defense are gonna make plays across the season, but the last thing we do is get down on each other. I think EB echoes that a lot. Staying consistent in what we do and I think it starts with the quarterback and so far he’s done a really good job and I know he still has time to grow, but that comes with us rallying around him and doing our job to make his job easier.
Ownership change and being the face of the franchise:
Yeah, I mean, I think it’s humbling to be in this position to grow as a player and as a leader. That’s something I’ve always taken pride in. To see Mr. Harris and the rest of the group that’s been brought in, they are a very impressive group of individuals and they have a clear vision on how they want to get this organization back to where it once was back in the days. One thing that strikes me about him, he’s just so personable and it really shows that he cares about the wellness of the players and starts with us. How he can improve what’s going on here. So, the communication with him has been great. Leaders have gotten to meet with him. I know he’s been talking to the coaching staff and everybody like that. It was great to see this place sold out on Saturday and the buzz and the energy that this place had. It’s something I hadn’t probably quite experienced since I’ve been here. But it was just cool to feel that that energy that everybody’s bringing and now it’s on us to put the work in now so we could give everybody something to cheer for and we could be consistent this year.
Pads on at practice this week:
Pads tomorrow and Terry McLaurin is pumped. He likes to play physical, and pads helps him separate from anyone broadly who just looks good in shorts and shirt. pic.twitter.com/X2ImDUoYnc— Ben Standig (@BenStandig) July 31, 2023
Oh, definitely because I, like, part of my game is, I like to run my routes physical as well. And sometimes when you’re wearing jerseys it kind of allows you get grabbed a little bit more than you would like, but when you get the pads on, it’s easier to use your hands, throw guys by, run through their chest a little bit and be a little bit more physical. That’s what I’m preaching to our wide receivers right now because it’s good to get practice against our DB’s cause all of ‘em play a different technique. But the number one thing you can do as a receiver is use your physicality, hold your space, and I think that’s gonna be a growth step for all of us tomorrow, now that the pads are gonna come on because there’s really no excuse to be getting grabbed on ‘cause you should be being physical with them as well.
It’s gonna help us over the course of this season when we go against some tough press man teams and guys who like to be physical. You gotta have that in your repertoire to be ready, especially our bigger guys, you know what I mean? The young guys who have bigger frames, that should be one of the staples of their game is physicality. I’m excited. When pads come on, it raises the level of camp because quite frankly, a lot of guys can kind of look good in shorts and shirts, but now the physicality comes out a little bit more, it’s hot, you know what I mean? You got pads a few days, so the mental grind of camp starts to weigh on you a little bit more and that’s when you guys start fighting through it and still be productive every day.
Expectations for himself:
Yeah, I mean, I think EB really preaches selflessness and it’s not really necessarily about your touches or about the yards you’re gonna put up individually, but how you bring what you need to this offense to make us successful as a team. And so, that’s something that’s always at the forefront of my mind, how I could be my best self for the team. And if that’s coming out here and putting up big stats, that’s what I am prepared to do. I know I can, but at the end of the day, I’m gonna do what’s asked of me and be somebody EB and Sam could trust. But at the end of the day, you want to be the workman, the bell cow, you know what I mean? But, I’m just focused on trying to be the best leader that I can, but also making sure I’m improving as an individual and learning this offense.
LIVE: DE Montez Sweat speaks to the media after the first practice of Week 2 of camp https://t.co/yRujr31kDo— Washington Commanders (@Commanders) July 31, 2023
Do you see any differences in your game coming into this season?:
I mean, playing the game of football for a certain number of years, especially at this level, you see certain things that become familiar and you become noticeable. So yeah, it’s a few things that I noticed out there and some things that I need to get better at.
Sweat said he felt Young always was a 'pro' but that he elevated his approach after the injury.— John Keim (@john_keim) July 31, 2023
Chase looks real good. I mean, one thing I can say that he has developed on, he’s starting to be more of a pro. He’s always been a pro, but I think ever since the injury as far as the cold tub and the pre-practice and the treatments after practice and just things and stuff like that, that’s why I think he’s upped his game a lot.
Going with Young to Ohio State University and working with Defensive Line Coach Larry Johnson:
It felt kind of weird being on another college campus at first, but we both knew what we was there for and that was to get better. Just honing in on some of the techniques from Coach Larry Johnson. He was actually great. We brought some of the things that we did in Ohio back out here just for pre-practice and stuff like that we do, so yeah, it was great. It was a great experience.
Maturing in the NFL:
My first year in the league, I got a culture shock on me. I think we went like 1-16 so that humbled me as soon as I got in the league. The next year, I was better mentally. So, I think that just happens every year.
Expectations now vs earlier in his career:
I mean, I used to feel like that, but I mean, after a certain while you realize it’s not really in the numbers. It’s just about affecting the game. How can you affect the game.
When that mindset changed for him?:
I don’t know. It just changed.
Uncertainty of a contract year:
I mean, it’s not necessarily an uncertainty. I mean you know it’s gonna happen at some point. You just keep your head down and work. You listen to the guys, your peers around you. I mean, Jon and Daron, they give me nuggets and advice all the time on just keep on doing what you’re doing and everything will come to fruition.