It’s no secret the Washington Commanders’ defense has struggled through their first two games of the 2022 season. Ron Rivera addressed their effort on a few big plays conceded to Detroit, analysts are concerned about their upcoming matchups, and the unit as a whole looks to be in a bit of a conundrum.
However, there are two reasons why fans shouldn’t sound the alarm on this defense yet. First, it’s only been two games and there are months left this year for the unit to improve. Secondly, they might get a key piece back soon.
After being sidelined with a torn ACL suffered during Week 10 of last season, edge rusher Chase Young could be nearing his return. Fellow defensive lineman Jonathan Allen described Young’s recovery process on the Sports Junkies Tuesday morning.
“Man, Chase is close,” Allen said. “I mean, obviously I can’t say because I don’t really know, but he looks good from what I’ve seen and he’s excited. He’s out there running and getting back to his old self, so I’m excited. I really am.”
Young was placed on the PUP list in late August, meaning he’ll be out until the Commanders’ Week 5 matchup vs. Tennessee at the earliest.
In Young’s absence, Washington has been forced to shuffle their defensive line. Rookie defensive tackle Phidarian Mathis is out for the season after going down with a knee injury in Week 1; Daniel Wise and Casey Toohill both suffered injuries in Week 2; and rookie UDFA Donovan Jeter—who the team signed Sept. 12 and released a week later—played 18 snaps in Detroit.
Simply put, Young’s return will be a welcome sight for a defensive line in need of stability. Young had originally said that his goal was to return for Week 1. Despite that timeline not coming to fruition, Young has been present for team activities throughout the summer, albeit not as a full participant.
“He’s not doing any drills with us, but I mean, we’re also in full pads hitting each other, getting ready for practice and he’s just not at that stage yet as far as being with the team,” Allen said about Young’s involvement. “I don’t even know if he’s allowed to, based on the rules—I don’t even know how all that stuff works. It’s really complicated.”
So far, the Commanders rank 27th in the NFL in points and yards allowed. Granted, it has been two games and the team only lost one of them, but a bit of clarity on the status of one of their best young pass rushers is a good sign.
Washington will take on Philadelphia at home this Sunday in Week 3 before traveling to take on another division rival, the Dallas Cowboys.