ASHBURN, Va. -- For the first time in nearly a year, Washington Commanders defensive end Chase Young felt like he was part of the group again. He was back at practice for the first time this season. But it remains uncertain when he'll play during a game.
On Wednesday, Young went through drills, jogged on and off the field when it was his time to work, and laughed with his coaches.
"Just being in the mix; I haven't been in the mix coming up on a year," Young said. "Long time not playing football."
The Commanders (4-4) have 21 days to activate Young off the physically unable to perform list. Washington coach Ron Rivera said it's "probably jumping the gun" to think he would play Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.
But, Rivera said, it depends on how Young's right knee responds after practicing all week. That would make the Commanders' Nov. 14 game at Philadelphia his likely return, if all continues to go well.
"All I know is I'm sticking to my plan," Young said. "I felt good today. It's really just day to day. I wanted to play in the first game."
Young tore his right ACL in a Nov. 14 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He also needed a graft from the tendon in his left knee to repair his right knee, making his recovery longer.
Young wore a brace on his right knee during practice. The Commanders practice without pads and helmets on Wednesday. Young performed regular individual drills, lining up against a blocking sled and lunging into it, then reaching up to bat down a volleyball thrown by a coach.
"He was quick, he was spry," Rivera said. "He's excited."
Young said he did not view this injury as a "setback," saying, "I look at it as a test from God, come back stronger. I ain't worried."
Young's return would be another boost to a team that has won three consecutive games. Over the past six games, Washington's defense ranks eighth in points and fifth in yards and third-down percentage.
"I'm confident," Young said. "I felt good, I felt pretty springy. Just getting back in motion, all the pre-snap reads and things like that, just feeling like a football player again. Feeling good."
Young, the No. 2 pick in the 2020 draft, had a strong rookie season with 7.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries, one of which he returned for a touchdown. But last season he was less effective with 1.5 sacks and two forced fumbles in eight games.
"You know what my expectations are for myself," Young said. "It's coming."