“Scary Terry” became involved in a different kind of scare on Monday Night Football, a scare for fans of the Washington Commanders.
What Happened to the Star Commanders WR?
Before halftime of their Week 2 preseason contest against in-state Maryland rival the Baltimore Ravens, the 2022 Pro Bowler landed awkwardly on his right leg and was slow to get up.
Then came the next scene at FedEx Field: Him walking off the football field. At first, doctor of physical therapy Jeff Mueller believed McLaurin injured his ankle in looking at the footage.
Terry McLaurin injury –
Likely Right High Ankle sprain suffered here, but seems like it would be on the mild side.
We know high ankle sprains can be problematic though, so keep an eye on this one with only 3 weeks to go to Wk1.
Bet he plays but could be impacted. pic.twitter.com/e0YF6SrllJ
— Jeff Mueller, PT, DPT (@jmthrivept) August 22, 2023
But turns out per the Commanders, it was his toe.
“WR Terry McLaurin has a toe injury and won’t return to the game,” the team’s X account posted at the start of the third quarter.
WR Terry McLaurin has a toe injury and won’t return to the game
— Washington Commanders (@Commanders) August 22, 2023
Before the ailment, McLaurin showcased the same routes and release that’s turned him into a rising star at wide receiver.
Terry McLaurin route running is a thing of beauty pic.twitter.com/4LnrQu1Hue
— Barstool DMV (@Barstooldmv) August 22, 2023
Per ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter, X-Rays came out negative for McLaurin’s toe ailment.
Commanders said WR Terry McLaurin has a toe injury and will not return to tonight’s game. X-Rays on McLaurin’s toe were negative.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 22, 2023
McLaurin Developed Knack for Staying Healthy Before Monday
Prior to the Ravens contest, McLaurin established himself as a wideout who steered away from injured reserve.
In his last two seasons, McLaurin not only played in all 17 games — he earned all 17 starts, giving him a streak of 35 consecutive games with a start. The last time he was listed as “inactive” was on December 27, 2020 due to an ankle sprain. That came during the season he caught his most regular season receptions at 87 and 1,118 yards.
But in the next two seasons, McLaurin has produced two more 1,000-yard campaigns including a career-high 1,191 in his first Pro Bowl campaign.
And during the time he hasn’t missed regular season action, he’s caught 77 passes in both seasons and has scored 10 combined touchdowns (five in 2021 and five in 2022).
McLaurin one year ago signed a blockbuster three-year, $68,364,000 deal with the Commanders during a record-setting market for NFL wide receivers. He joined names like Stefon Diggs, Davante Adams, Cooper Kupp and fellow 2019 draft class mate Deebo Samuel as wideouts who wrote their signature on their new mega deals.
Where Do the Commanders Go From Here in the WR Room?
Initial thoughts are McLaurin could be facing a turf toe ailment.
If it’s on the mild side for the now fifth-year WR, it’ll mean missing the final preseason game but he could be ready for the season opener — as mild turf toe ailments take up to two or three weeks to heal.
That’s the good news. The bad news is there’s a brief stoppage for Washington to witness the chemistry build between McLaurin and new starting quarterback Sam Howell.
With McLaurin injured, who else do the Commanders turn to in the meantime?
Howell did feed the ball to one WR he’s familiar with: Dyami Brown, who was not only his Commanders teammate last season but also a past North Carolina Tar Heel like the new QB1.
Making @UNCFootball proud 🔥
Impressive drive there from Sam Howell, capping it off by hitting his college teammate Dyami Brown for 6️⃣
— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) August 22, 2023
Howell additionally found Antonio Gibson for six points before the second quarter ended.
Sam Howell ➡️ Antonio Gibson!
— NFL (@NFL) August 22, 2023
But outside of the two who scored for the Commanders, there’s veteran options like Curtis Samuel to trust in McLaurin’s absence. Samuel caught 64 passes for 656 yards and scored four touchdowns in his first full season with Washington as he was limited to just one start in 2021 with the team due to groin and hamstring injuries.
Then there’s one intriguing young talent in the WR room with Jahan Dotson entering his second season. While he caught just 35 passes for 523 yards on 61 targets, he still led all Commanders receivers with seven touchdowns last season.
Washington will have no shortage of options in the WR room as McLaurin deals with his toe injury. Still, this unit reaches full strength with McLaurin healthy.
Fantasy Impact of Terry McLaurin’s Injury
Analysis by Kyle Yates
McLaurin’s talent level is simply off the charts. He’s one of the best WRs in the entire NFL, but he’s been held back from producing like a top-5 fantasy football option due to the QBs that have been throwing him the ball up to this point.
His ADP this year reflects yet another unknown at QB, but he could easily outperform expectations if Sam Howell proves that he can be an above-average NFL QB. However, an injury that could linger into the start of the 2023 NFL season could prove to be yet another obstacle in his way from reaching top-tier status.
The severity of McLaurin’s turf toe injury is unknown at the time of writing, but it could mean that he misses a couple of games to start the season. This would obviously move him even further down our PFN Consensus Rankings than his current placement of WR26.
If McLaurin does miss extended time this year, the main beneficiary would be Jahan Dotson. The second-year receiver out of Penn State proved to be incredibly effective last season and would shine with an expanded role. With McLaurin out of the way, Dotson could easily see upwards of eight targets each game, which would easily push him into the top 20 of WR Rankings.
We’ll await further information, but if McLaurin does miss time, you’re going to want to reach for Dotson in your fantasy football drafts.