- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Chase Young’s second year with the Washington Commanders didn’t go the way he envisioned. The defensive end failed to top —  or even match — the production of his stellar rookie season, managing just 1½ sacks. Then, to make matters worse, Young suffered a season-ending ACL injury in November.

But Commanders coach Ron Rivera indicated Tuesday he believes the disappointing year may prove beneficial for the pass-rusher in the long run.  

“For Chase, it was a little bit of an awakening,” Rivera told reporters at the NFL’s annual owners meetings in Florida, “a bit of a realization.”

That “realization,” it appears, is a lesson that Rivera hopes his whole team learned. After making the postseason in 2020, the Commanders regressed, with the defense taking a noticeable step back. 

“For us, hopefully, the realization of that we hadn’t arrived has set in,” Rivera said. “Just showing up is not good enough.”

Young’s setback sets the stage for a pivotal offseason for the 22-year-old, but so far, Rivera said he’s encouraged by everything he’s seen. The coach added that he expects Young to be at Washington’s voluntary workout sessions this spring — something the young star skipped last year.

“In my conversations with him, he says he’s going to be here,” Rivera said of Young. “That’s something I’m pretty excited to see.” 

Young’s knee injury will prevent the pass-rusher from taking the field with teammates. But the workouts will still be a valuable opportunity for Young to focus on his rehab and be around the rest of the team. 

Young’s decision to skip last year’s workouts became a point of contention as the year dragged on.

Young missed the voluntary sessions a year ago to film commercials and appear on ABC’s “Celebrity Family Feud.” Young maintained that he was training on his own all the while and later defended his choices — telling reporters, “I was making money, baby.” 

The offseason activities likely wouldn’t have been an issue if Young had produced on the field. But in his second year, the pass-rusher faced an uptick in double teams and chips — and struggled to handle the extra attention from opposing offenses. Rivera said Young got away from playing to his strengths and needed to focus more on rushing with power rather than finesse. 

Young told reporters after the season said he expected to be ready by training camp.

“Trust me, I know that my knee can get back to 110%,” he said. “As long as it can get back to 110% then that’s the only thing that I care about.”

Young seems to be taking a lower profile this offseason.

Other than showing up during Super Bowl week to promote one of his endorsements, Young has focused on his rehab — going to Colorado to work with Dunamis Health and Performance, a facility known for helping NFL stars recover from knee injuries. 

“One thing I really appreciate is how focused he is right now,” Rivera said. “He really truly is attacking his offseason, his rehab program. I think that’s been good.” 

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

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