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Commanders activate star defensive end Chase Young, status against Falcons remains unclear

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The Washington Commanders are activating defensive end Chase Young to the 53-man roster, head coach Ron Rivera announced on Monday.

The former NFL Rookie of the Year suffered a torn ACL in November 2021 during a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Young underwent surgery and was able to return to the practice field earlier this month.

Washington’s 21-day window to activate Young from the physically unable to perform list would have closed on Wednesday. 

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The Commanders used the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft on Young. In his first full season in the league, he recorded 7.5 sacks and 44 tackles.

The surgery on Young’s injured ACL required doctors to graft part of his healthy left patella tendon in order to repair the injured knee.

The Commanders have won five out of their last six games and are in the midst of a playoff push, partly due to the sparked newly-named starting quarterback Taylor Heinicke has provided.

The former XFL player is 4-1 as the starter this year. He was thrown into the starting role after Carson Wentz suffered a fractured finger. 

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Young’s return would certainly provide another big boost to the team.

The Falcons are set to travel to FedEx Field to play the Commanders on Sunday, but Rivera did not commit to Young being a go. 

Rivera noted the team is being cautious and wants to continue to see how Young’s surgically-repaired knee responds in practices.

“The biggest thing we want to see is where he consistently cuts it loose,” Rivera said. “We want to make sure he’s confident, no hesitation. … You start to see it, especially when he’s not thinking about it. I watch it very closely and every now and then check to make sure it’s fine. We want to make sure because the last thing we want is for him to get back out there and hurt it again.”

During Young’s absence, other members of the team’s defensive line, most notably Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne, have performed well. As a unit, the Commanders defense has logged 32 sacks in 11 games. 

No matter when Young makes his 2022 regular season debut, his role will likely start off limited. Riviera said Young will probably be on a snap count, but noted that the team will no rush Young this week.

“We’ll work him,” Rivera said. “If he’s ready to play, he’ll play. If not, he’ll wait another week.”

The 23-year-old’s workload should be expected to increase into the mid-20’s after his first game back and then increase from there.

Adding Young’s pass-rushing capabilities would certainly give the Commanders a late-season advantage in the competitive NFC East division.

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