ASHBURN, Va. — Washington Commanders defensive end Chase Young said there’s a “night and day” difference in how he feels compared to the end of last season — and that’s part of why he isn’t worried that the team hasn’t picked up their fifth-year option. He said he wasn’t surprised by the decision either.
“Not disappointing at all,” Young said Tuesday. “I’m ready to go.”
Young attended the first day of the mandatory three-day minicamp in Washington after missing more than a month of voluntary workouts, including the last two weeks of OTA workouts. He and compatriot Montez Sweat worked in Colorado, where Young did his rehab work the previous offseason.
Young was limited to three games last season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament and patellar tendon in his right knee on November 14, 2021.
Young, who will be a free agent after the season, said he felt much better than he did at the end of last season.
“Night and day,” said Young, who wore a right knee brace. “Night and day. … My confidence, my strength. Everything.”
And, he said, he felt like himself. Young earned 2020 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors after recording 7.5 sacks, forcing four fumbles and recovering three — and returning one for a touchdown. But he only managed 1.5 sacks in nine games before injuring his knee the following season.
When Young was asked how he knew he felt like before the injury, he said to “watch the film of practice today.”
“I felt pretty explosive there,” Young said.
Last season he didn’t register a sack but the coaches wanted him on the pitch partly to prepare him for next season and to gain confidence in his knee.
“We just want to see him pick up where he left off,” Commanders coach Ron Rivera said. “He was starting to play faster and faster and loved seeing him go out and really run around and kind of let go and not be hesitant. And that’s probably the most important thing for him.”
Young participated in team drills on Tuesday, showing an explosive first step. During the individual exercises, he was his usual energetic self: swaying and singing along to music while waiting for his turn in an exercise.
“It’s just kind of an energy,” linebacker Jamin Davis said. “He always brings a bit of soul to him too. You can always hear him singing in the locker room. It’s good to have him back.”