Chase Young exploded off the line of scrimmage, galloped past Antonio Gibson and batted down Kyle Allen's pass as if he was a basketball player making an emphatic block. On the next play, Young stood his ground against a pulling Keith Ismael and met Gibson four yards in the backfield. If this were a game instead of practice, the No. 2 overall pick would have ripped his fellow rookie to the ground.
Young is still recovering from a hip flexor injury, so he only received six reps during team drills Monday. That's all it took to show the Washington Football Team how disruptive he can be this fall.
"We've seen the pass-rush ability, obviously, and that's probably the biggest thing you always look for when you take a defensive end that high," head coach Ron Rivera said about Young on Tuesday. "Now it's putting the rest of his game in place in terms of understanding how to play the run, understanding how to shut down the edges and keeping everything in front of him and inside him, and he's done a great job showing us he's capable of that.
"It's just unfortunate he missed a couple of days because of the [hip flexor], but he's had a good couple of days. We've been trying to gradually reintroduce him to practice, and he seems to be handling that very well."
Young's workload continued to increase Tuesday, as he played opposite Ryan Kerrigan with the second team during the 9-on-9 session and select 11-on-11 periods. Young, who suffered the injury a week ago, feels like his hip is close to being 100%. "It's right there," Young told reporters afterwards. "You want to make sure that it's 100-110% and something I don't have to think about when I'm out on the field."
The media has only seen Young for small parts of training camp, but his teammates and coaches have nearly a month's worth of interactions to go off of. And across the board, Young has earned rave reviews.
Ryan Anderson highlighted his maturity and said he can have a "huge impact," while Kevin Pierre-Louis described him as humble and hard-working and believes he can be as good as he wants to be." Multiple players pointed out Young's thirst for information and desire to be one of the best, which are common traits among Washington's defensive line. "He fits in right off the bat," Matt Ioannidis said earlier in training camp.
Young said it's been difficult being sidelined so early into his NFL career, but he's made the most of every practice session, Zoom meeting and walkthrough. During installation periods, Young has been mimicking the steps he would take if he was playing. He has also hung around veterans like Kerrigan and Nate Orchard, flooding them with questions about the playbook and his technique. Recently, Kerrigan briefed Young on different ways to activate his body before taking the field.
"The young man is determined. He's determined," defensive line coach Sam Mills III said of Young. "He's not just trying to come here and sit on what he did at his university. He's here and he's ready to work and he's ready to compete. He comes with that attitude every day. When we did get to see him fly around on the grass, you can tell he's been studying. He knows what he's doing right now, and it's not too big for him. With a rookie, you always worry about a kind of mental overload and he's been really good so far. I'm just excited about his future, and I'm excited about how fast he's picking everything up."
Young made even more progress Friday following two days off. He participated in nearly every team period and began a lot of these sessions with the starters. On the first play of the first 11-on-11 drill, Young blew up a quick pass to tight end Logan Thomas near the line of scrimmage. On the next snap, his initial burst upfield disrupted a running play to J.D. McKissic.
Rivera said afterwards that Young "looked fresh," but he would not speculate on when Young would be able to participate fully. That depends on the training staff, Rivera added. Whenever it gives Young the go-ahead, that's when the team will be able to "cut him loose," unleashing Young's full potential.
"He wants to know how he can be great, so I want to impart as much as I can on him and help him accomplish all he can accomplish," Kerrigan said of Young. "You guys know this is no secret: the sky's the limit for that guy."