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What to know from Washington’s Monday practice: Terry McLaurin thrills with a diving TD catch

There's pressure on Terry McLaurin to be the No. 1 receiver Washington needs this season, and McLaurin showed he was ready Monday with the most exciting play of camp. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)
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On a hot morning in Ashburn, the Washington Football Team concluded its challenging, three-day stretch of contact practices. The day was eventful, with the most exciting play of camp so far from Terry McLaurin, the introduction of new team president Jason Wright and the emergence of guard/quarterback Brandon Scherff. The countdown to Week 1 is 20 days.

This is the Washington Football Team notebook, something we’re trying this season to bring you closer to the action with insight and analysis you might not find elsewhere. Please tweet @Sam4TR or email sam.fortier@washpost.com with thoughts, questions or suggestions.

With 12 seconds left in the final late-game drill of practice, Terry McLaurin made the play of this summer’s camp. Washington had been stuck in deep field goal territory for a few plays until quarterback Dwayne Haskins spotted McLaurin streaking down the left sideline. McLaurin had beaten cornerback Greg Stroman, so Haskins pushed a deep ball to the back corner of the end zone, where the wide receiver dived to snag it.

For a practice touchdown, it felt important. This three-day stretch was more contact than players had experienced in about eight months, and the defense had subdued the offense just about throughout. The drill had challenged the offense to score with 1:40 left and a few timeouts, and the connection between two players with the spotlight on them this season gave a glimmer of hope to a unit with limited expectations.

Afterward, McLaurin punted the ball and ripped off his helmet. He told everyone on the offensive sideline not to play with him, marching about 40 yards. Haskins ran over to celebrate, and McLaurin slapped low-five with offensive coordinator Scott Turner.

Coach Ron Rivera left impressed not by the flash of McLaurin’s grab but by the smaller steps that preceded it. Rivera has preached the importance of quarterback decision-making all training camp, saying he wasn’t as worried about Haskins’s intermittent inaccuracy.

During the drill, Rivera saw Haskins take what the defense gave him on a couple of plays and noticed defenders grow impatient. Then he hit a few deeper throws, opening things up further. Against a strained defense, Haskins had the option of going short, long or through the middle. He got the man-to-man press coverage he wanted with Stroman on McLaurin, and he found his trusted receiver for the big play.

“When you get in those type of situations, it really isn’t about … making the big plays,” Rivera said. “It’s about making the right ones. He made a bunch of the right plays today.”

After practice, Rivera introduced the players to new team president Jason Wright. The 38-year-old, who is the first Black team president in NFL history, was in his first day on the job. Wright told the players he understood their situation — he played running back in the NFL for seven seasons — and urged them to come to him if they ever wanted to talk.

After his speech, Wright convened at midfield with Rivera and owner Daniel Snyder, marking the first public meeting of the organization’s three most powerful figures.

Washington’s emergency quarterback could be Brandon Scherff. If the four signal callers on the roster can’t play and the team is without former Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas, the guard may be next. He submitted his audition tape Monday, flashing his arm while the offensive linemen ran routes.

Practice playlist: “Heartless” by YFN Lucci, “Flex” by Polo G, “U Played” by Moneybagg Yo, “Rich As Hell” by YoungBoy Never Broke Again

Injury info: After four days out, defensive end Chase Young (hip flexor) returned to practice on Monday morning. His reps were limited, but he rotated in during individual work and 11-on-11.

For the first time, guard Wes Schweitzer (undisclosed) appeared on the sideline, but he did not participate in practice. The other four observers: lineman Saahdiq Charles (calf), lineman Mike Liedtke, cornerback Fabian Moreau and linebacker Donald Payne.

Running back Peyton Barber tweaked his left leg when he slipped early in practice, but he returned and looked okay. Undrafted free agent Thaddeus Moss cleared waivers Sunday and was added to Washington’s injured reserve list.

Before you go: The defense stayed late. After practice, coordinator Jack Del Rio kept his unit on the field, broken up by position group. The roughly 10-minute walk-through included linebackers coach Steve Russ drilling his players on run fits and defensive line coach Sam Mills III focusing on pass-rush moves.

“Just clean some things up,” safety Troy Apke said of the meeting’s goal. “We had a good day today in practice. There were some periods where I think the offense got the better of us, we got the better of the offense. It’s day by day. It’s just competing.”

Read more on the Washington Football Team:

Rivera knows he’s ‘going to struggle,’ and he needs his players to step up

Daniel Snyder’s pursuit of financial documents called ‘speculative fishing expedition’ in filing

Alex Smith opens up about recovery and next steps: ‘Go out there and get hit’

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