Young will play a limited role when the Commanders (7-6-1) play in San Francisco (10-4) on Saturday. This is a pivotal game for Washington, who is clinching his seventh and final playoff spot with three games left.
“Now is the time,” said Washington coach Ron Rivera, announcing Young’s return to the lineup.
Young tore his right ACL and torn his patellar tendon last season against Tampa Bay on November 14. His tendon tear protracted his recovery. Over the past few weeks, the team and Young have been optimistic early in the week, but that has calmed down after a few days of practice.
They wanted him to have the confidence to kick off his feet and be able to handle blockers and double teams. But what they often saw was hesitation. On Sunday, Young met with Dr. James Andrews, who performed his surgery. Andrews told him his knee was fine.
At that point, Washington almost certainly knew Young would make his debut against the 49ers. They just wanted to get through the week to confirm.
“Meeting Dr. Andrews was the last thing he did to get over the hump,” Rivera said. “He practiced with confidence. He showed us his willingness to stick that foot in the ground and roll it, plant it, chop it off. He had a good week, so we’re all about it.” I’m pretty excited.”
Rivera says Young will be limited to about 12 to 16 snaps.
“Every day I feel better. Every day I feel stronger and more comfortable,” Young said Wednesday.
Young returned to practice on November 2 and was placed on a 53-man roster on November 21. Two days after that, Young was asked what he would add when he returned.
“Chase Young,” he said.
He later said that even a limited snap can be effective.
“Shooting, 16 plays, one of them could be a game play. You never know,” he said. .”
Young was named the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2020 with 7.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. But last season he managed 1.5 sacks and he could only manage two forced fumbles before he got hurt.
He will return to the defensive line that has fueled much of Washington’s success. Defensive tackle John Allen was named the Pro Bowl starter, and his fellow tackles Daron Payne (first substitute) and end Montes Sweat (second substitute) were mentioned as well.
“It’s not like you have to bring a player off the street and match him,” Jeff Zgonina, defensive line coach, said earlier this month. It’s nothing new, it’s just another tool, that’s all.”