- The Washington Times - Friday, July 29, 2022

ASHBURN, Va. — Defensive star Chase Young will miss at least the first week of the NFL’s regular season as he recovers from a torn right ACL, Washington Commanders coach Ron Rivera said Friday. 

When Rivera met with reporters, the coach initially suggested that Young would start the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list — meaning the pass-rusher would miss a minimum of four weeks. But Rivera quickly backtracked, ruling Young out only for the start of the year. Hours earlier, Rivera told local radio station 106.7 The Fan that the 23-year-old would “probably miss a little bit of time” to begin the season.

The Commanders open the season on Sept. 11 at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars. 

“It’s unfortunate,” Rivera said. “But it was a serious injury, obviously, with surgery, and he’s doing everything he’s supposed to. He’s on time as far as where the doctors think he should be, and as he gets better and better we can update you. But right now, he’s right where he needs to be.”

Young, the NFL’s 2020 defensive rookie of the year, opened camp on the PUP list, but Rivera made clear earlier in the week that Young was the furthest away in his recovery among the four players who were placed on the list. During the offseason, Young revealed that his surgery differed from the traditional ACL repair as surgeon Dr. James Andrews had to graft part of the patellar tendon from Young’s left knee to his right. 

Asked if Young could be placed on injured reserve to start the year rather than PUP — a technical difference despite both carrying at least a four-game absence — Rivera was non-committal. Young suffered the injury on Nov. 14 when he went down against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

“It just depends on where he is, Rivera said. “I can’t tell you. The doctor is the only one that can tell you.”

Young had previously expressed optimism that he could be ready in time for Week 1. But in June, the pass rusher cautioned that he and the Commanders wouldn’t rush the process. Young spent a portion of his offseason in Colorado to rehab at a facility that specializes in recovery from knee injuries. 

With Young out, the Commanders have primarily used James Smith-Williams to pair with fellow edge rusher Montez Sweat.

Defensive tackle Daron Payne said Young has been participating in meetings and watching film with the rest of the defensive line. 

“I feel like it’s just a mindset thing,” Payne said. “And Chase, he’s got a real good head on his shoulders and I feel like he’s just ready to get back out there and show everybody what he’s got.”

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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