Chase Young making progress, but his status remains 'day by day'

Chase Young making progress, but status remains 'day by day' originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

ASHBURN, Va. -- Washington Commanders' star pass rusher Chase Young was activated to the 53-man roster on Monday, the final roster hurdle for him to make his 2022 season debut.

But after practicing in a limited fashion on Wednesday, Young was noncommittal about whether he'd play this Sunday versus the Atlanta Falcons at FedEx Field.

"Taking it day by day," Young told reporters.

Young, 23, has not played a snap in over a calendar year after suffering a torn ACL against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last November. Despite some initial optimism last week that Young could make his debut in Houston, he remained on the PUP list through the Texans game before Washington activated him on Monday -- two days before the deadline that would've reverted him to season-ending IR.

Commanders head coach Ron Rivera seemed encouraged by Young's progress on Wednesday after watching the pass rusher go through individual drills.

"Chase looked good. He did. He had a good day," Rivera said. "He showed us some things that we've been looking for. We'll continue to monitor his progress and we'll see how he does on Friday."

Earlier this week, Rivera told NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay the team planned to "work him with the intent that he's ready to play."

The head coach emphasized that he wanted to see Young "consistently cut it loose" during practice where there's no hesitation. The last thing Washington wants to do is rush Young back out there before he's ready and increase the risk of re-injury.

Rivera has already made it clear that Young will be on a pitch count when he does return for Washington. The hope is that Young can play for 12-16 plays at first, per Rivera, before increasing that number to roughly 30-35 by the end of the season.

Even though he'll initially be on a snap count, Young believes that he can make a significant impact when he does eventually return.

"Sixteen plays, one of those plays can be the play of the game," Young added. "You just never know. However many snaps I have when I come back, I'll be prepared."

The Commanders' defense has been rolling in recent weeks, particularly along the defensive front. Tackles Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne have both been playing at a Pro Bowl level, while pass rusher Montez Sweat has been excellent in both applying pressure and stopping the run off the edge.

Young -- whose energy on the sidelines is evident, even from afar -- admitted he's eager to join the group that's already playing high-level football.

"Real eager, man. I'm proud of where this team is right now," Young said. "I think we can make a run down the stretch, so I'm real excited. ... You can see it. We're ballin', man. I'm happy for my brothers."

Young's fellow defensive linemen are looking forward to the pass rusher's return to the lineup, too.

"He's so explosive. He has a big-play potential," Allen said. "He can really change the momentum of the game at any point, any given play."

The combination of talent, athleticism and skill set Young possesses is rare. Yet, it's not the only thing his teammates are looking forward to when he does return. The energy he brings is infectious.

"That's a former All-Pro guy. He's a high-energy guy and he's a leader, man," safety Darrick Forrest said. "That's definitely something we need back on the field."

"Just his energy. Everyone knows the type of player Chase is," cornerback Kendall Fuller added. "He's a guy that's always going to hunt. He's going 100% every single time. Anytime you can have guys like that -- that can rub off on the rest of us as a group. You always love to have him on the field."

The Commanders, understandably, have done their best to temper expectations for Young's return. But the 23-year-old firmly believes he'll be his old self when he does step back on the field.

"What do you hope to add to this defense when you do return?" a reporter asked the third-year veteran.

"Chase Young," he said, smiling.