Chase Young was not on the field for the Washington Commanders this week, as many believed he would be, but that does not mean there has been a lack of progress from the defensive end.
In fact, things are going quite well.
Head coach Ron Rivera confirmed during his Thursday press conference that Young had a positive meeting with the doctors today and is still on track to return to practice next week and eventually make his 2022 season debut.
"The doctor is very happy with it," Rivera said of Young's meeting with the physician.
Rivera is referring to the team starting Young's 21-day period where he is allowed to be placed on the roster after being designated to return to practice. Young was placed on the Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform list before Week 1, meaning he had to miss the first four games of the season.
Per league rules, Young was allowed to return ahead of the team's game against the Tennessee Titans, but the Commanders made the decision that his injury would need more time to heal.
That caution was what slowed the Commanders from designating him to return this week. Young had a heavy workload on Sunday, but the doctor wanted him to slow things down for one more week.
Assuming he is activated for Week 9 against the Minnesota Vikings, Young would provide a boost on multiple fronts to the Commanders' defensive line and team overall. Young is an emotional leader for the team, and while he has not been able to practice with his teammates, Taylor Heinicke said he still roots for his teammates.
"You always hear him at practice and he's not practicing, but he's right there in it and he gets the guys juiced up," Heinicke said. "It's always fun seeing Chase go out there and do his thing. We're hoping he can come back soon."
The defensive line is currently playing some of its best football with 19 sacks, which is tied for seventh in the NFL. According to Football Outsiders, the group's adjusted sack rate (8.2%) is also seventh in the NFL.
It is unknown how long it will take for Young to get up to speed, but it is a guarantee that having the 2020 No. 2 overall pick will certainly bolster the group.
Here are some more notes from Thursday:
-- Rivera does not anticipate that Jahan Dotson will be available on Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts. Dotson was a nonparticipant on Wednesday and Thursday. He has been working with the trainers running on a submerged treadmill to remove some of the tightness in the hamstring he tweaked in practice last week.
-- Jonathan Allen was not a practice today, but it was for a veteran's day off, so there is no concern about him being available for Sunday.
-- Rivera said that Cole Holcomb has a foot sprain that has kept him out of practice this week. The team has been trying to keep him off it as much as possible to help it heal. Washington will determine if he is able to play on Friday.
-- The Commanders have faced a bevy of talented running backs this season, from Derrick Henry to Miles Sanders. Next up is Jonathan Taylor, and Daron Payne said the defensive line is focused on staying sound in its technique.
"Bring it every play, honestly, and that should stop him."
-- Scott Turner said that Heinicke's decision making is getting "better and better." He is doing a better job of anticipating where his receivers will be. The third down play to Terry McLaurin is the ultimate example of that, but there were several times that Turner noticed Heinicke getting rid of the ball earlier because he knew where his receivers would be. That stems from a trust in his wideouts as well as his growing experience in the offensive scheme.
-- Turner thought the Commanders improved on third down after going 0-for-4 to start the game. That allowed the offense to run the ball with more efficiency. "That was the difference in the game," Turner said, and it showed on the box score. Washington outgained the Packers on the ground by 128 yards and was fueled by the duo of Antonio Gibson and Brian Robinson Jr.