- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 1, 2022

ASHBURN — Charles Leno has a bit different perspective than Ron Rivera when it comes to Chase Young attending the Commanders’ voluntary workout sessions. The coach, understandably, wants his star defensive end to attend and believes Young’s leadership can help build chemistry for the rest of the year. 

Leno? 

“We need him for Sunday at the end of the day,” the left tackle said. “So whether it is here or Indonesia, I don’t care where (he’s) at.”



Young was nowhere close to the far east Wednesday as the 23-year-old returned to the team’s facility this week to join teammates for workouts. The spotlight on Young’s location became a subject of focus last week when he missed the previous session to concentrate on the rehab of his right knee, particularly after Rivera had signaled months earlier he expected Young to be there. Young also elected to skip last year’s workouts to film commercials, only further adding to the drama. 

Still, Young watched practice from the sideline Wednesday after emerging from the building more than halfway through the session. After tearing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in November, Young is still far out from practicing, but he told reporters that he has started to run and is happy with his progress.

As for his absence? That, he says, was part of the plan formulated by Washington’s training staff and Dr. James Andrews, the surgeon who performed the procedure in late November. 

Young said that rehabbing at a performance center in Colorado was a decision made collectively.

“I feel like we have our tools and gadgets to try to get me back fast,” Young said. “Here, too. I feel like we work together as a team, so just trying to bring me back the fastest.”

Young and Rivera repeatedly mentioned a “plan” to aid the defensive end’s recovery.  Young’s surgery differed from the traditional ACL procedure as the former defensive rookie of the year confirmed that doctors also operated on his left knee to take out a graft in his patella tendon.  

After practice, neither Young nor Rivera elected to put a timeline on the process as both cautioned the need to be careful when working on a return. In past interviews, Young has expressed optimism that he can start practicing in training camp and be ready for Week 1. 

Until then, there are lessons that Young says he can glean from observing practice. On Wednesday, he stood near defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio to listen to play calls and watch how his fellow linemen operate. Young also tries to relay tips to the defensive line when he notices something.

During his rookie season in 2020, Young emerged as a leader in the locker room and was promoted to captain as the year went on. Young’s energy is partly why Rivera said he thought it was important that the defensive lineman attend the workouts, even if he’s unable to be out on the field. 

“It’s a good thing,” Rivera said, later adding, “He is one of those guys that has an infectious energy level.”

Beyond the injury, Young is coming off a disappointing 2021. Before getting hurt, the former No. 2 overall selection recorded just 1½ sacks and Rivera indicated that the pass rusher often got away from his strengths. At the league owners’ meetings in March, Rivera said the season was “a little bit of an awakening” for Young. 

Young, though, downplayed any suggestion that last year was a “humbling” experience. He first brought up the injury, saying that he would respond. Asked again about his play, Young demurred.

“That was last year,” Young said. “We on to this year.”

But Young appears confident that he can still perform at a high level. During his recovery, Young talked to former Ohio State teammate Nick Bosa. Bosa and Young share similarities as they were both the No. 2 overall pick and enjoyed dominant rookie seasons before tearing their knee in Year 2. 

Bosa finished last season with 15 ½ sacks after recording nine in 2019. Young said the resurgence “definitely” inspired motivation. 

“Knowing myself, I know I can get back to where I was,” Young said. “And that’s my plan.”

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

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