Ron Rivera has spoken to Chase Young and believes he’ll be ready in 2023
When defensive end Chase Young chose not to report to Washington’s voluntary OTA sessions this week, it was always going to be a big story. Young wasn’t the only player not to attend, as fellow defensive end Montez Sweat and veteran left tackle Charles Leno Jr. also were absent.
Young’s situation is a bit different from Sweat’s and Leno’s. With only 1.5 sacks over the last two seasons — of course, Young missed 22 out of 34 games with a devastating knee injury — Young had his fifth-year option declined last month. There is a lot on the line for the former No. 2 overall pick.
Remember when Young skipped OTAs in 2021? Head coach Ron Rivera wasn’t happy. Coming off an NFL defensive rookie of the year award, Young chose to skip OTAs and report to Ashburn for the mandatory portions of the offseason. So, in remembering that and coming off declining the option, Rivera was clearly going to be irritated this time around, right?
Well, Rivera spoke to the media Wednesday and showed no emotion when asked about the three players skipping OTAs, again noting they were voluntary.
“You always would like to have all your guys here, but again, it’s voluntary,” Rivera said. “We understand that, and the nice thing, though, is I’ve been in contact with them. They’re working out. They’re progressing, getting themselves ready to go. When it all comes down to it, we’ll see ’em when they have to be here.”
That’s the right answer. Rivera can’t say he’s upset publicly because the OTAs are voluntary. And maybe he isn’t. Maybe there is an understanding with all three players that this was the plan, and they cleared it with the head coach beforehand.
Rivera said he had spoken to Young and exchanged text messages with him, specifically since the team declined his 2024 option. Rivera believes Young has the right mindset and will report to the team ready to go. He also noted how Young and Sweat were with the team at the start of the offseason program in April.
“From what I’ve gotten in our text messages and conversations, just, hey, he gets it,” Rivera said. “He understands, and he’s gonna go out, and I really believe he’s gonna come in and give us everything he’s got.”
The optics aren’t great on Young skipping OTAs. This isn’t just about impressing the current coaching staff. There will be a new owner soon. Even if this is about injury, Young — and the others — could be there with their teammates, like Kamren Curl. Like Daron Payne did last offseason.
How’d that work out for Payne?
While Payne and Young’s situations aren’t identical, there are similarities. The team essentially told Payne to prove it. He did — in a big way. Washington could’ve had Young under control for 2024 but felt there were too many risks, namely the injury. Therefore, Young finds himself in a similar position as Payne did one year ago.
Will Young respond similarly? He sure has the ability to do so.
Rivera explained the difference between Young and Sweat missing OTAs in 2023 vs. 2021:
“I’m not as concerned just because these guys are a little bit older, a little bit more veteran,” the coach said.
The good news is the lines of communication are open between Young and Rivera.