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Chase Young reflects on 2022 season, sets goals for offseason

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The offseason is a time that players use to get ready for the next season, but most take the first couple of weeks off to rest their bodies and recover from the physical demands of a 17-game season.

Chase Young does not have that mindset. He's going to start his preparations for Year 4 early.

"I'm excited that I don't have to rehab my knee this offseason," Young said during the Washington Commanders' locker clean-out day. "I can just get strong as a mug, come back explosive."

Young, who spent almost a year rehabbing from a torn ACL and ruptured patella tendon, made his 2022 season debut on Christmas Eve against the San Francisco 49ers. The former No. 2 overall pick only played in three games, but there was still progress made during that span. He gained confidence in his knee, and he showed that he can still be disruptive.

Now, Young is ready to head into the offseason with the goal of focusing solely on preparing for a bounce back season.

"I only had three games, so I told my coaches, 'I'm about to go work out,'" Young said. "I don't have to rest my body like everybody else. So, I'm starting that early."

The Commanders wanted to be cautious with Young and ease him back into action whenever he gained enough confidence in his knee to protect himself and take live hits from offensive linemen outside of practice. The plan was to put him on a pitch count of about 15 snaps, but Young doubled that in the Week 16 game against the 49ers and gradually increased his snap counts from there.

Young ended up playing 115 snaps, including 47 in the season finale against the Dallas Cowboys. He recorded five tackles, a quarterback hit and a pass deflection, but Young only had one goal in the final stretch of the year.

"Run around and wreak havoc," Young said. "I feel like I did some of that. The milestone for me was just getting back on the field. I made a few plays when I was out there, definitely helped my confidence go up. So, I'm building that foundation for next year."

Confidence has never been a problem for Young, but what he went through after his injury during the 2021 season was a humbling experience for him. It helped him grow in terms of being patient, but it also allowed him to take a step back and look at the game differently.

"I would watch somebody else's rushes, may Casey \[Toohill\] or \[Montez Sweat\] and imagine myself rushing out there," Young said.

Young believes a full offseason work, without needing to worry about his knee, will help out a defense that finished the season third in yards allowed (304.6). The unit finished the season with a positive result, as they limited the Cowboys to just six points and held Dak Prescott to 127 yards on 37 attempts.

Young has just wanted to add to what the Commanders already had on defense when he returned to the field, and he believes the unit is close to taking another step.

"We're right there," Young said. "They [Dallas] couldn't run the ball, so our defense played well ...I'm excited for what's to come."

So, what's next for Young this offseason?

"I'm about to get strong," he said. "Real strong."

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