ASHBURN, Va. — Washington Commanders defensive end Chase Young said there’s a “night and day” difference in how he feels compared to the end of last season — and that’s partly why he’s not worried that the team didn’t pick up his fifth-year option. He said he wasn’t surprised by that move, either.
“Not disappointing at all,” Young said Tuesday. “I’m ready to go.”
Young participated in the first day of Washington’s mandatory three-day minicamp after missing more than a month of the voluntary workout sessions, including the last two weeks of OTA practices. He and fellow end Montez Sweat worked out in Colorado, where Young did his rehabilitation work the previous offseason.
Young was limited to three games last season after tearing the ACL and patellar tendon on his right knee on Nov. 14, 2021.
Young, who will be a free agent after the season, said he feels much better than he did at the end of last season.
“Night and day,” said Young, who wore a brace on his right knee. “Night and day. … My confidence, my strength. Everything.”
And, he said, he felt like his old self. Young earned 2020 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors after recording 7.5 sacks, forcing four fumbles and recovering three — and returning one for a touchdown. But he managed only 1.5 sacks in nine games before hurting his knee the following season.
When Young was asked how he knew he felt like he did pre-injury, he said to “watch the film from today’s practice.”
“I felt pretty explosive out there,” Young said.
Last season, he did not record a sack but the coaches wanted him on the field in part to get him ready for next season and to gain confidence in his knee.
“We just want to see him pick up where he left off,” Commanders coach Ron Rivera said. “He was starting to play faster and faster and just love to see him get out there and really run around and kind of cut a loose and not be tentative. And that’s probably the biggest thing for him.”
Young participated during the team drills Tuesday, showing an explosive first step. During individual drills, he was his usual energetic self: swaying and singing to music while waiting his turn in a drill.
“He’s just an energy type of dude,” linebacker Jamin Davis said. “He always brings a little soul to him as well. You always hear him singing in the locker room. It’s good to have him back.”