After over a year of work and waiting, Chase Young has taken another important step in his return.
Head coach Ron Rivera announced during his Monday press conference that Young, who has worked for the past 372 days to recover from a torn ACL he suffered in Week 10 of the 2021 season, has been activated and will rejoin the 53-man roster.
Young, who was designated to return to practice by the team nearly three weeks ago, has spent that time getting himself back in shape to compete and help his teammates make a playoff push. While both Young and the team have been anxious for his 2022 season debut to finally arrive, the plan has been to be cautious and wait until he is confident enough in his knee to play.
That patience has paid off, because that moment has arrived.
It was a long journey for Young to be physically ready enough to be designated to return to practice almost 21 days ago. After his first practice in nearly a year, he described the work he put in from not being able to walk to going through months of rehab.
"It was tough. I ain't gonna say it wasn't tough," Young said. "Obviously, it was the first serious injury I've had. Every day, it's a slow grind. Real slow."
Once he was designated to return after a "heavy work day" before the team played against the Green Bay Packers, Young entered another phase of his recovery, which was to improve his conditioning to the point where he could physically handle playing in an NFL.
Young has now gotten to that point, but that, too, was a slow process that Washington treaded carefully.
The sticking point was that Rivera and the medical staff wanted to see Young "stick that foot in the ground and work off of it and play off of it." Young made improvements in that regard, but it was, as Rivera said, "incremental."
"Every now and then you'll see it just kinda hesitated a little bit, and you can see his frustration because he wants it to happen now, but it's gonna be a rep thing," Rivera said Nov. 12. "The more practice he gets, the more reps he gets."
Nine days later, Young has shown enough confidence that Washington is comfortable enough to activate him. Young's teammates have been excited about his return for weeks. Now that he is officially back on 53-man roster, it should provide an extra emotional boost for them.
"To have him back on the field suited up, it's gonna be really exciting," said quarterback Taylor Heinicke. "Obviously, he's a great player and he brings that extra juice, so we're all excited for him."
That is not going to stop the Commanders from being cautious with him. Assuming he does play against the Atlanta Falcons on Nov. 27, Rivera said Young's snaps will be regulated.
"It'll be a pitch count," Rivera said. "It'll be a pitch count and something we'll have to monitor closely."
Regardless of how many snaps Young does play, he will join a Commanders defensive line that is playing like one of the best groups in the league. They are coming off a five-sack performance against the Houston Texans, which gives them 29 for the season.
And no matter how many snaps he can play, Young will add another piece to Washington's arsenal of pass-rushers.
"You see what he does on the field," said defensive tackle Daron Payne. "I'm excited to see him get back in the rotation with us. I know everyone is excited to see him back, so it's going to be fun."