Dotson is leaving a strong impression during first OTAs


The unquestioned play of the day during the Commanders' OTA practice session on Wednesday came via the team's prized first-round wide receiver.

Jahan Dotson was the recipient of a Carson Wentz touchdown strike during 9-on-9 drills midway through Wednesday's practice, a perfectly thrown ball from the Commanders' new quarterback. Dotson, who originally lined up on the left before running a post towards the middle, hauled in Wentz's pass in between two defensive backs for six points. The throw -- and catch -- were equally impressive, as the entire sideline erupted in cheers after the play.

Although Wednesday marked just the fifth on-field OTA practice the Commanders have completed thus far, Dotson is quickly impressing his new teammates and coaches.

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"He's done a nice job. He came in and it looks like it's not too big for him," offensive coordinator Scott Turner said. "He's playing fast, he's consistently getting separation and he's catching the ball."

J.D. McKissic, who played wideout in college before converting to a running back in the NFL, even admitted he's been a bit surprised how polished Dotson already is as a rookie.

"Just to see a young rookie come in and be so developed. He's developed, he's running crisp routes. I'm very shocked how [quickly] he's learned the offense," McKissic said. "He's doing incredible. He's learning the offense, flying around and making plays."

At Penn State, Dotson made a living off his excellent hands and ability to make plays in space. But on his touchdown grab on Wednesday, the 16th overall pick demonstrated his ability to make the tough catches over the middle, too. If Dotson's early returns are able to translate to the field in the fall, the Commanders will have another playmaker to count on.

That specific play wasn't Dotson's only highlight of the day, either. With Commanders' star wideout Terry McLaurin still absent from OTAs seeking a new contract, Dotson has begun to form an inspiring connection with Wentz. The quarterback and receiver were on the same page multiple times throughout the session, as No. 11 looked for his new top target early and often throughout the session. 

Yes, it's only OTAs, but it's becoming clear that Dotson is Wentz's most trusted target as of now.

"The guys like him. Carson [and] the quarterbacks like throwing the ball to him," Turner said. "So, just continuing to have him work and get better. There's a lot of things we'll be able to do with him."

Turner admitted that McLaurin's holdout has allowed Dotson, as well as some of the other receivers, to get more reps with the starting unit that they otherwise might not have gotten. But even when -- and if -- McLaurin does return, the offensive coordinator believes Dotson's skill set will allow him to contribute immediately.

"He's doing everything. He's a really smart guy. Those two things don't really affect each other," Turner said. "It's not like we only have one receiver on the field at all times. We got some other guys who are filling in those spots."

Dotson earned praise from head coach Ron Rivera, who said last week he was specifically impressed with the rookie's route running -- a trait that wasn't necessarily used to describe the wideout during the pre-draft process.

"I like his route running. I think he runs very good routes," Rivera said. "He's very precise with them and he's got natural hands. It's just a matter now of him learning and developing and growing within the scheme and really just refining his game."

Speaking with the media last week following his first on-field practice, Dotson specifically mentioned how his goal for OTAs is to "be a sponge" and pick up as much information as possible.

So far, Dotson's been as good as advertised.

"Jahan is a guy you can move around. He's versatile and he's shown that ever since the moment he got here," Turner said.

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