Commanders

Montez Sweat doesn't feel extra pressure with Chase Young out

Commanders
Montez Sweat in minicamp

ASHBURN, Va. -- No player has been louder at Washington Commanders training camp than Montez Sweat.

"You got Montez, who talks TOO much," left tackle Charles Leno half-joked Thursday when discussing the Commanders' defensive line group. "It's always something with him. He's just a ball of energy out there and I love it."

Whether it's been trash talk or just simple communication with defensive teammates, it's hard to miss Sweat's voice. The rising fourth-year veteran has emerged as one of the leaders of Jack Del Rio's defense, a role he's more than comfortable taking on -- evident by his constant trash talk.

A first-round pick by Washington in 2019, Sweat has looked the part of an elite pass rusher at times during his first three professional seasons. However, between injuries and inconsistent play at times, Sweat has yet to turn in an entire Pro Bowl-level season of play.

Sweat will be without his pass rush counterpart to begin the 2022 season, as Commanders head coach Ron Rivera already ruled 2020 first-rounder Chase Young, who's recovering from a torn ACL, out for at least Week 1 vs. Jacksonville.

Even with Young sidelined, Sweat doesn't feel any extra pressure on his shoulders to perform.

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"Not at all. In football, there are 11 people out there on one side of the ball," he said. "Everybody has to do their job for the train to keep on going."

Asked if he's given any advice to Young throughout the 23-year-old's recovery process, Sweat said it's actually been the other way around.

"Chase is a pretty strong-minded guy. A strong [guy] mentally," Sweat said. "He actually gives me probably more advice than I give him. He's good."

Sweat added that Young has been with the team every day during training camp, including meetings and walkthroughs. "He's a leader for us. That's his role for us and he's going to keep on doing that," Sweat said.

Expectations were high for Sweat, Young and the rest of Washington's defense entering the 2021 season. The group was coming off a top-five season from the year prior. Both pass rushers fueled the hype during training camp by stating their goal to break the NFL's combined sack record of 39. They fell 32.5 sacks short.

Sweat, who played in just 10 games a season ago due to a jaw fracture and a bout with COVID-19, isn't shying away from the disappointing campaign he had last fall.

"Not good enough," Sweat said on his play in 2021. "I just want to keep on improving and just being a better me."

So far, Sweat has lived up to his word. Through eight days of camp, only cornerback Kendall Fuller can compete with Sweat for who's been the best performer thus far. Sweat's been talking a ton of trash throughout the first week-plus of camp, but his play on the field has more than justified it.

Leno, who's had to face Sweat multiple times thus far in camp, has been impressed with the new arsenal of moves the fourth-year veteran arrived to Ashburn with this summer.

"He's definitely starting to work on more moves," Leno said. "That's really good, being a guy who's [6-foot-5], being able to run a 4.4, you don't just want to be a one-trick pony. You want to be able to work every move, power moves, finesse moves, things like that, inside out. He's been doing a really good job of that."

Sweat knows that expectations are high for him in Year 4. He's ready to embrace them once again.

"I'm in a great space. I said I want to win, I want to help everyone around me be great and just keep on moving forward," Sweat said. He later added: "I want to get better every day. I feel like I'm getting better every day."