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Practice report | Chase Young active for Week 16 vs. 49ers

12212022 Week 16 Practice EF013

He's playing.

Defensive end Chase Young will be active for the Washington Commanders' Week 15 Christmas Eve matchup against the San Francisco 49ers on Christmas Eve.  

"Every day, I feel like I'm getting better," Young said in the locker room earlier this week. "Every day, I feel like I'm getting stronger, more comfortable. Just gotta keep going, continuing that." 

Young said he "definitely" felt closer to playing last week, and the team could certainly use him, even if it is on a pitch count. Young has remained confident in the plan to get him back on the field, and that patience has paid off.

"A lot of positive things," Rivera said. "He felt really good this week ...He practiced with confidence. He had a good week, so we're pretty excited about that.

Young's confidence in his knee to plant and protect himself on the field has been the main priority in determining his availability. But Young said he was able to "cut loose" this week, and the visit he had with Dr. Andrews last week was one of the final steps towards being on the field. His talent will be of use to a defensive line that has been playing well in the second half of the season, and regardless of how many snaps he has, he will help disrupt the 49ers' talented offensive line.

"It'll be a big lift," Rivera said.

Kamren Curl will be listed as questionable for the pivotal Saturday game. 

Curl (ankle) was a limited participant on Tuesday and Wednesday, but there was no prior indication that his status was in doubt for the critical game that Washington must win to stay in control of the seventh seed in the playoffs. However, Curl was absent from Thursday's shortened practice, leaving his availability in doubt one day before the team flies to California. 

After missing the first two games with a thumb injury, Curl has been one of the Commanders' best defensive players. His success close to the line of scrimmage has led to the safety recording 83 tackles, which is the second most on the team, while his versatility has helped him earn a Pro Football Focus overall grade of 82.9 -- the third highest graded among all safeties and second highest in the NFC. 

Should he be unavailable, the lack of Curl's presence could lead to some challenges for the Commanders' defense when it comes to accounting for the 49ers' playmakers like Christian McCaffrey and George Kittle. The rest of the Commanders' secondary -- Bobby McCain, Darrick Forrest and Percy Butler -- must be prepared to step up if he cannot play. 

Cornerback Benjamin St-Juste and defensive end Chase Young will also be questionable once again. St-Juste, who has missed the past three games with an ankle sprain, was limited all week, although it seemed there was some confidence in his availability earlier in the week from Ron Rivera, who said the cornerback moved around "very well" and "you just feel like he's going to be there." 

St-Juste also said in the locker room on Tuesday that he believes he will play, but the team will make the final call before kickoff. 

"The big thing is he's got to be able to plant and drive and coming off of a high ankle, that's probably one of the things that you really have to see," Rivera said. 

Like last week, Antonio Gibson and Andrew Norwell were limited all week with foot and shoulder injuries, respectively, but they will be active for Saturday's game. Brian Robinson will also be active with a quad injury after being a full participant all week. 

Saahdiq Charles, who first reported symptoms of a concussion last week, will be out again.

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