Chase Young has been envisioning himself getting back on the field for a while now. To him, that is the first step towards turning those mental aspirations into a reality.
Like the Washington Commanders' fanbase, he would like to get in the backfield and take quarterbacks for real instead of in his mind.
It has been three weeks since Young was activated off the Physically Unable to Perform list, and while the Commanders have played two games in that span, he has yet to suit up with his teammates. The team had held off the decision to activate Young all the way up to Sunday morning, only to place him on the list of inactives before kickoff.
So, is Sunday's primetime game the moment Young makes his season debut? Maybe, but either way, Young is trusting the process.
"Still taking it one day at a time," Young said in the Commanders' locker room. "I guess I found that spot where I'm trusting in God, trusting the process. I just found that median and just taking my time. When I'm ready, I'm gonna be ready."
And Young has been working for months towards making sure he is physically prepared to be on the field. The team has been cautious with its approach for Young, choosing to wait until he feels ready to contribute.
The Commanders' team facility was closed last Saturday and Sunday to give the players extra time to rest, but Young was hard at work on Wednesday and Thursday going through "five workouts in two days."
"I'm staying on it," Young said. "So know that...I'm working. Working and trusting the process."
Whenever he does return, Young will be placed in the midst of the Commanders' playoff push. That starts with Sunday's game against the Giants, which will dramatically affect the team's postseason hopes, regardless of a win or loss. No matter the outcome, however, each game for the final month of the season will be important.
Young is not concerned about the pressure, though.
"I ain't really trippin' about none of that, man," Young said. "I'm just staying in this medium I'm in and taking it slow. Trusting my process. [If] They say tomorrow, I'll play tomorrow."
Instead, Young is more focused on making sure he gels with the defense, which is currently fourth in yards allowed and tied for 10th in sacks. Although Young will be on a pitch count, he wants to make sure he does disrupt the chemistry that the defensive line is playing with in the second half of the season.
"I'm just trying to add to what they're already doing," Young said. "We're ballin' right now. I'm just trying to add a spark to what we already have."
It is almost certain that the Commanders will slow play Young's status all the way up to gameday once again. Head coach Ron Rivera did seem pleased with his progress over the bye week, though, and mentioned that Young seemed more confident.
That momentum carried over to Wednesday's practice as well.
"He came in prepared, ready to go and did pretty much the reps that we had set aside for him and moved around pretty good, all things considered with the weather," Rivera said.
Confidence has been the main sticking point in making sure Young is prepared for game action. The Commanders want to see him plant off his foot and protect himself from different blocks without being too conscious of his injury.
So, is Young confident?
"I'm confident," Young said with a smile. "I'm a confident guy. Ain't nothing gonna ever break me down. I'm gonna keep smiling, laughing, being the loudest dude in the locker room and keep on going. And when I'm on the field, I'm on it."
Here are some more notes from Wednesday's practice.
-- Washington got some positive updates for several of its injured players. The biggest development regarded Benjamin St-Juste, who was at practice with his helmet on and went through drills with his teammates for the first time in weeks. Montez Sweat and James Smith-Williams, both of whom are in the concussion protocol, were at practice as well. Sam Cosmi and Trai Turner were also spotted going through drills with their fellow offensive linemen. If things continue to hold, Washington should be close to full strength heading into the weekend.
-- Rivera was "more than happy" with the energy the players showed in practice and meetings today. There were some minor details that the team needs to clean up for the rest of the week, but he appreciated their enthusiasm and attentiveness throughout the day.
-- There has been some speculation in terms of who the Commanders' starting center will be for Sunday, and it seems that Wes Schweitzer will be that answer. "It's good to have him back," Rivera said, and the head coach believes that is a good spot for him because of how intelligent Schweitzer has been for the team.
-- Rivera wants to see fans pack FedExField and to be loud and supportive on Sunday. The team has worked hard to get their attention and respect back, and to have their support in one of the biggest games of the year would be "awesome."
-- Curtis Samuel went through a lot last season with injuries sidelining him for much of his first year with Washington, but he has been a key piece of the offense in 2022 with 744 scrimmage yards and four touchdowns. It has been outstanding, Rivera said, to see him make such an important contribution.
"Him being a big part of what we've done and the success we've had is what we envisioned when we brought him here last season."