It was just a pass during one nondescript practice in early August. Yet it was the sort of play the Washington Commanders hoped to see: quarterback Carson Wentz pumping the ball, then hitting receiver Terry McLaurin with a back-shoulder throw.
The play wasn't a designed back-shoulder throw; McLaurin ran a double move. But it turned into one, and resulted in a good throw and touchdown catch. For the coaches, the play highlighted a step forward in building chemistry between Wentz and McLaurin. And that, in turn, is a big step for the passing game as the Commanders prepare to host the Carolina Panthers in their first preseason game at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday.
"It's an example of them being on the same accord and in rhythm," receivers coach Drew Terrell said.
It's been obvious in the first two weeks of training camp that Washington's passing game remains a work in progress. Sometimes Wentz will be sped up by the pass rush, resulting in off-target throws. Other times McLaurin, for example, has admitted that he will break too quickly on a route, leading to a throw behind him.
During practice Tuesday, Wentz connected with McLaurin on one 10-yard out route when corner Kendall Fuller was on his inside hip. Wentz delivered the ball to where only McLaurin could catch it, and he did. On a throw Wednesday, as McLaurin turned, the ball was already thrown to his inside.
Terrell said it's a matter of the quarterback and receivers getting their timing down.
Said Washington coach Ron Rivera: "There are some inaccuracies, but it's nothing that we are overly concerned about. You see what's going on and how things are developing. You see the timing and just understand the feeling of what's going on with our concept. So, we will continue to grow and work on it."
Washington's offense has good players, but it's a work in progress because of new parts, absences and injuries.