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Chase Young had one very simple thought in his mind soon after becoming a Redskin

Chase Young had one very simple thought in his mind soon after becoming a Redskin

This past Thursday night was one of the biggest evenings in Chase Young's life. The recently turned 21-year-old pass rusher would have one of his lifelong dreams of being a first-round NFL Draft pick fulfilled. 

Shortly after 8 p.m. that evening, Redskins head coach Ron Rivera made the call to Young, informing the pass rusher that his hometown team would be selecting him with the No. 2 overall pick, a move many expected for weeks. 

But after Young's initial emotions of hearing NFL commissioner Roger Goodell saying his name faded, the newest Redskin had one simple thought cross his mind: "It's time to go to work."

"You get drafted that second pick, you know, people are going to be setting high expectations," Young said in a Zoom conference call with local media on Monday. "People are trying to label you with the Gold Jacket."

Young understands the expectations are lofty for him in Washington. He's heard the comparisons to pass rushing greats of the past, too. He's not shying away from them either; he told the local media that one player that his playing style is similar to is future Hall of Famer Julius Peppers.

The pass rusher is mature well beyond his age. Young realizes he has little time to waste as he hopes to help turn around an organization that has been near the bottom of the league for decades.

"I just try to mute everything out," he said. "I try to mute out the negativity; I try to mute out the positivity and just focus on football."

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Young has wasted no time getting to know his new teammates, either. The day after he was drafted, Young drove over to Jonathan Allen's house to meet him.

"I just wanted to meet one of the leaders of the defense," Young said. "I feel like it was right to do that."

In addition to Allen, Young mentioned he plans to meet with his fellow defensive lineman and last year's first-round pick, Montez Sweat, too.

Being able to meet his new teammates so early on after being drafted is a luxury right now, as many recent draftees are not near their team's city due to the coronavirus pandemic. Young is fortunate to have been drafted by his hometown team, as he's already been living within driving distance of many of his new teammates.

When the world does return to a sense of normalcy and on-field practices can begin, Young will join the Redskins' deepest position group. Outside of Allen and Sweat, the team also has former first-round pick Daron Payne along the front line, too. Matt Ioannidis cannot be forgotten, either, as he had the best season of anyone in the unit a year ago when he was named a Pro Bowl alternate.

Young's Ohio State teammate Nick Bosa was in a similar situation in San Francisco a year ago. Like Young, Bosa was the No. 2 overall pick that joined a talented defensive line, but the 49ers as a whole were not a good football team the year prior. Bosa's impact completely transformed the defense, one that led San Francisco to the top seed in the NFC and a Super Bowl appearance last season.

The two situations aren't exactly identical, as Washington has many more holes on their roster than the 49ers did entering 2019. However, Young believes he can make a similar impact on the Redskins defense that has plenty of talent, yet vastly underperformed a year ago.

"The 49ers had a top D-Line and [Bosa] came in and just added more pressure," Young said. That's the only thing I'm trying to do here. Be a sponge and just play as hard as I can."

Young's NFL debut is still several months away. But when it comes, the pass rusher has a warning for opposing defenses.

"I'm fired up, man," he said. "We got a D-Line full of first-rounders. When we go, watch out."

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Ron Rivera might not say it outright but it sounds like Washington is Dwayne Haskins' team

Ron Rivera might not say it outright but it sounds like Washington is Dwayne Haskins' team

Ron Rivera refuses to name Dwayne Haskins the starting quarterback for the Washington Football Team, but listening to the coach's comments about the second-year passer, it sure sounds like it's Haskins job. 

"He’s done a great job of studying, preparing and getting himself ready for this. He’s been great," Rivera said Tuesday morning. "He’s been on the field, doing the things we’ve asked of him. He’s done the extra stuff that he and I talked about in the offseason. He’s done the things that, I think, puts him right there where he needs to be at this junction of where we are in our training, having only been able to do zoom and now only having four days of work on the field."

Much has been made about veteran QB Alex Smith's return from injury. 

Smith's story has been incredible, working his way back from a compound fracture in his leg and 17 surgeries as his body was ravaged by infection. Now Smith is able to work out with trainers at the Washington practice facilities for multiple days without setbacks. It's a remarkable story. 

But there are still major hurdles for Smith to get back on the field, not the least of which is clearing a football physical from the Washington doctors.

"For him, it’s really just a matter of, can he do the movements he needs to do?" Rivera said. "Can he protect himself when he’s on the field more so than anything else?"

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There's another important element to point out and that's the advantage - real or perceived - that Kyle Allen has over Haskins.

Allen started nine games for Rivera and new Washington offensive coordinator Scott Turner last season in Carolina, and found some success. The Panthers won Allen's first four starts, and in those games, he threw no interceptions. Conversely, Carolina lost the last six games Allen started and he threw 11 picks in those contests. 

RELATED: RIVERA PLEASANTLY SURPRISED BY ALEX SMITH IN CAMP

Earlier this offseason Rivera suggested that Allen could have a "leg up" on Haskins based on knowledge of Turner's system. Asked on Tuesday if Haskins still trailed in that department, Rivera did not seem concerned. 

"I don’t think Dwayne is very far behind, I really don’t."

Rivera wants open competition across his football team. No player gets named starter, rather that player earns the job. Sure sounds like Haskins is doing just that when it comes to the starting quarterback spot. 

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With the way Alex Smith has looked so far, Ron Rivera 'can envision' him being in the quarterback mix

With the way Alex Smith has looked so far, Ron Rivera 'can envision' him being in the quarterback mix

Positive reports about Alex Smith's early training camp performance came out over the weekend, and on a Tuesday morning Zoom call with the media, Ron Rivera echoed those reviews.

"He's looked good, he really has," the head coach said. "I'll be honest, I was pleasantly surprised to see how far along he is. It's been exciting to watch his progression."

According to Rivera, Smith has been working off to the side with Washington Football Team trainers at the Ashburn facility and is mirroring what Dwayne Haskins and Kyle Allen are doing, too. Coordinator Scott Turner and QBs coach Ken Zampese are apparently involving Smith as much as they can, and Smith is looking "very fluid" so far.

"It's a tribute to who he is, it's a tribute to his trainers and his doctors who have helped him get where he is today," Rivera said.

That all, of course, is wildly encouraging. The fact that the 36-year-old is in a place where he can check off those boxes and do those activities is astounding. That can't be pointed out enough, either.

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Yet it's also fair to note just how different mimicking a starting signal caller and actually serving as the starting signal caller are. So, is there any real chance of Smith transitioning from that first phase to the second before the season? 

With what he's seen from the veteran so far, Rivera certainly believes there is.

"I can envision it," he said. "The big thing is if he can do the things that we need him to do, that he needs to do to help himself on the football field, he'll be part of the conversation most definitely. He did some really good things last week. He went through all four workout days, had no residual effect the next morning, which is always important because the next day usually tells.

"We'll see how he is this week and we'll go from there."

As Smith continues to rehab and try to make his way off PUP, the challenges are solely physical. Rivera is not worried at all about the veteran having to adjust to a new scheme or dealing with any other mental task; instead, the primary concern is ensuring that Smith can handle the contact that'll come if he makes it back into live action.

"I believe he already knows probably 75-percent of our playbook," Rivera said. "So for him, it's really just a matter of can he do the movements he needs to do? Can he protect himself when he's on the field?"

It feels like every time Smith is brought up, he's taken another step. The next one, however — going from the PUP list to the huddle — is particularly daunting.

But at this point, it's gotten pretty difficult to imagine anything being particularly daunting for Alex Smith. So don't be that floored if he makes it happen. Rivera clearly won't be. 

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