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The Washington Commanders are hoping to have their top wide receiver available for the Sept. 10 season-opener game against the Arizona Cardinals, but that’s no certainty.

Terry McLaurin sprained his right big toe during Monday night’s preseason win against the Baltimore Ravens, according to three people with knowledge of the injury. Two of those people said an MRI scan on Tuesday revealed no major injury, leaving them optimistic McLaurin could be available in Week 1.

Trainer Ron Rivera said X-rays taken Monday at FedEx Field came back negative, suggesting McLaurin did not sustain a fracture.

“We’re just going to continue to monitor that, continue the rehab and treatments and stuff,” Rivera said Wednesday. “We’ll keep him busy for a few more days and then start preparing next week.”

McLaurin appeared to have injured himself on a 13-yard catch in the second quarter. When tackled by Ravens linebacker Kristian Welch, his right foot appeared to bend awkwardly. As he got up, ESPN cameras watched McLaurin grimace and later hobble to the sidelines. He threw away his right shoe in frustration and then sat behind the bench while the coaches tended to him.

McLaurin went to the dressing room before the end of halftime and was later ruled out for the remainder of the game.

Although the Commanders sat out most of their defensive starters Monday — with the exception of rookie cornerback Emmanuel Forbes and linebackers Cody Barton and Jamin Davis — most of the team’s veteran offensive starters played the entire first half.

“This is a new group of people who need to get comfortable with each other,” Rivera said. “Going into the game we thought we could get them out and play a good half with them.”

Washington’s offense moves to new coordinator Eric Bieniemy’s West Coast system. Last week, the Commanders named Sam Howell, a fifth-round draft pick in 2022, as their starting quarterback, formalizing what had been apparent for months. The 22-year-old started in January’s season finale against the Dallas Cowboys.

Howell will be Washington’s seventh other starting Week 1 quarterback in as many seasons.

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The Commanders also redesigned their offensive line during the offseason, moving Sam Cosmi to right back, adding Andrew Wylie as a right tackle and signing Nick Gates as a center. Saahdiq Charles and Chris Paul compete at left; Rivera hinted Wednesday that the team could use both, perhaps in a rotation.

“When you try to put something new together and [you] Sit down and talk to the coaches and they talk about how we want to make sure everyone gets a chance to keep working together. Actually, the goal was to get a good half and we were lucky that we had a two-minute drive,” Rivera added. “…It was good that everyone was out there and it worked the way we needed it to.”

Best position players – McLaurin, Curtis Samuel and Jahan Dotson at wide receivers; Brian Robinson Jr. and Antonio Gibson at running back; and tight end John Bates, Cole Turner and Curtis Hodges – were with Washington last season. (Tight end Logan Thomas was unable to play Monday with a calf injury.)

“You never want anyone to ever get hurt, but at the end of the day sometimes you come out with results, like we did last weekend,” Bieniemy said. “I understand it’s pre-season but all these little things are important and it helps build confidence. And on top of that, it helps create a foundation to build on.”

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According to Kenneth Jung, orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon at the Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles, recovery from a sprained toe can vary by the severity of the sprain and by the individual. A complete cartilage tear usually requires surgery, said Jung, who neither treated McLaurin nor consulted with him about his injury. However, a minor sprain can be treated more conservatively.

“Sometimes these can be played through, but sometimes it takes four to six weeks to heal,” Jung said.

The details of McLaurin’s injury are unclear, but a notable type of toe sprain is turf toe, which is common in the NFL. The big toe is overstretched, meaning the band is bent up towards the knee or backwards towards the heel. The ligament on the bottom of the toe may be stretched or torn.

In 2020, Gibson suffered a turf toe in a win in Pittsburgh. He was limited to four snaps that game and was inactive for the next two. However, he returned for the final two regular season games and the playoff game against Tampa Bay authorized the following June that he was still dealing with the lingering effects of the injury.

Jung said turf toe is particularly common in veteran players because the toe is often pulled on tackles.

“Obviously with the receiver/skill position, they’re repelling a lot — a lot of blast on the underside — so if it’s persistently painful, you might lose the blast and the ability to push off somehow,” Jung added.

With McLaurin, Washington is benefiting from time – there are 20 days between the date of his injury and the start of the season.

“The next week or two would probably decide a lot,” said Jung. “…You’ll see how fast they’ll advance him. If he’s back in training at the end of this week and even next week, I think that’s probably reasonable. If they’ve arranged for it to shut down, that date is approaching, so it might be a bit more difficult.”

McLaurin has been at the heart of Washington’s offense for much of the past three years. Last year, he signed a three-year extension worth about $70 million, making him one of the highest-paid wide receivers in the NFL by average annual valor.

The 2019 third-round draft pick from Ohio State was the longest of any offensive player at Washington and is used to change — he’s played with 10 starting quarterbacks and for three offensive coordinators. He has rushed for more than 1,000 receiving yards in each of the past three seasons and has 4,281 yards in his four-year career. He was selected to the Pro Bowl for the first time in 2022 after 77 receptions for 1,191 yards and five touchdowns.

McLaurin, a team captain, has started all but one game in the past three years: he missed Week 16 in 2020 with an ankle injury but overcame the pain in a crucial win in Philadelphia in Week 17 and the first round Playoff loss to the Buccaneers.

“[He helps] “I want others around him to be better off,” Bieniemy said. “That’s what you want when you have role models like that in the dressing room. you have a chance They have a chance because these young people are learning what it’s like to be a professional at this level from such an ultimate professional.”

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