Washington Commanders edge rusher Chase Young has shed the brace off his surgically repaired knee nearly 21 months after tearing his ACL. The former Defensive Rookie of the Year is finally ready to get his career back on track.
"I feel myself," Young said Tuesday, via the Associated Press. "I feel good, and I'm running around, and I'm feeling explosive again."
Following a seven-sack rookie campaign in 2020, during which Young appeared to be just scratching the surface of his potential, the former No. 2 overall pick suffered an ACL tear in Week 9, 2021. Despite optimism that he could return early last season, Young played in only the final three tilts.
The Commanders declined his fifth-year option for 2024, making this campaign the final year of his rookie contract.
Thus far, the reviews have come back glowing on Young's progress.
"It's good to see Chase moving around the way he did," coach Ron Rivera said. "He's lightyears ahead of where he was last training camp. I think that's a big deal for us."
Added edge rusher Montez Sweat: "Chase looks real good. He's starting to be more of a pro. He's always been a pro, but I think ever since the injury as far as the cold tub and the pre-practice (routine) and the treatments after practice and just things and stuff like that, that's why I think he's upped his game a lot."
Despite medical advances, devastating injuries remain career-altering. It's not a given that flipping the calendar 12 months will bring a player back to 100%. For some, it's true. For others, getting back to being themselves takes a couple of years.
"They said, 'We just bounce back. That's just what we do,'" Young said. "That's my plan, and I guess y'all are just going to see what happens."
Young, as a high draft pick with enticing athleticism when healthy, profiles as a player who could be highly sought after in free agency if he has a big 2023 campaign and stays on the field. If he does, and the rest of the D-line plays up to its ability, Washington will be no cupcake this season.