For the first time this season, the Washington Commanders will have their complete quartet of first-round defensive linemen available to them.
Defensive end Chase Young, who missed the 2023 season opener with a stinger that first began bothering him in the preseason, was a full participant on Friday and has been cleared to play in Washington's Week 2 road trip against the Denver Broncos.
"The young man is chomping at the bit," head coach Ron Rivera told reporters last week. "He's done everything that he possibly could and he's getting himself ready to play."
Young, who started the week as limited during Wednesday's practice but was upgraded to a full participant on Thursday and Friday, first experienced discomfort in his neck during the Commanders' preseason opener against the Cleveland Browns. He sat out for the rest of that game, and while he did participate during some drills in subsequent practices, he did not play in either of the Commanders' remaining two preseason games.
Young was limited in practice throughout Week 1, but there were some signs that he was making progress. Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio said that Young was "working hard to be ready to go," and he added that Young looked as healthy as he had seen the defensive end since his rookie year. There was also Young saying in the locker room that he was "ready to go."
But Young still needed to meet with the doctor before the team could officially put him in the lineup. Young was cleared for contact, but the team also wanted to see how his body would react and decided to keep him out of the season opener against the Arizona Cardinals.
"The biggest thing is we're going to introduce him into full contact," Rivera said the Monday after the 20-16 Week 1 win. "It'll be an opportunity to go out and see where he is. So, we'll go from there."
There haven't been many updates on Young's progress this week, but in the one time Rivera was asked, he seemed satisfied with what he saw from the defensive end.
"Chase was able to take the reps that he was supposed to take, and he did everything that the doctors prescribed for him to do as far as the contact was concerned."
Having the front at full strength should provide a boost to a Commanders defense that was already playing well after a dominant second half against the Cardinals. The Broncos will provide a more difficult challenge for Washington with Russell Wilson leading an offense designed by Joe Lombardi and Sean Payton, who has a history of producing dynamic schemes.
"Sean's got a...very good offense," Rivera said. "It's very diverse. He utilizes his playmakers very well. The idea is to get the ball to them as quickly as possible."
And Rivera considers Wilson, who completed 79% of his passes in the Broncos 17-16 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, to be an ideal fit for Payton's offense. Scrambling and extending plays has long been a critical part of Wilson's skill set, and having a healthy version of Young should help contain him.
"He's moving well," Rivera said of Wilson. "He's still a good decision maker. He get the ball out quick. He's got an NFL arm still."
Sam Cosmi (shoulder) and Terry McLaurin (toe) were both full participants throughout the week and will be available on Sunday as expected. Curtis Samuel (hip) was limited on Wednesday and Thursday but will be ready to go as well. Jartavius Martin is in the concussion protocol and has been ruled out for Week 2.
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