Washington Commanders’ Chase Young will not play in Sunday’s regular-season opener with a neck injury that may cause the defensive end to miss additional games, according to multiple people familiar with the situation.
Young said early in the week he hoped to face the Arizona Cardinals, but he was not given clearance for game contact during a check-up on Friday.
Doctors laid out a plan to gradually increase contact during practice that puts the 2020 Defensive Rookie of the Year on track to return in Week 3.
Young has been a limited participant in practices since suffering a stinger on Aug. 11 in Washington’s preseason opener at Cleveland.
“I’m ready to go,” the fourth-year defensive end said following Wednesday’s practice. The final hurdle was an MRI exam on Friday followed by a video conference call with a doctor.
“You wanna see your best guys on the field doing their thing,” coach Ron Rivera said Friday. “Chase has worked very hard, (and) gotten himself into great shape. Even during this whole process, he’s done everything he’s needed to do.”
Young only played the final three games last season after missing the previous 22 dating back to a significant knee injury in Week 10 of the 2021 season. He shed a knee brace earlier in the summer and looked springy during training camp until the neck injury.
“I think he’s focused and I’m hoping for the best news today,” Rivera said Friday, “because the young man is an impact player and you want to see those guys on the field all the time. I’m hoping that he’s out there.”
The Commanders have one of the league’s better defensive lines but enter the season thinner than expected.
Two key rotation pieces, defensive end Efe Obada and defensive tackle Phidarian Mathis, were placed on injured reserve amid Washington’s final cuts.
Defensive end James Smith-Williams, Young’s primary replacement last season, was added to Friday’s injury report with an oblique injury.
The hope this summer was Young’s return could boost the already stingy defense to another level. Perhaps that happens, but that vision is on hold.
Washington ranked top 10 in numerous defensive categories last season. The Commanders are led up front by defensive end Montez Sweat and Pro Bowl defensive tackles Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne.
Washington declined Young’s fifth-year option this year, making him a 2024 free agent.
Additional DE options include Casey Toohill, 2023 draft selections Andre Jones and KJ Henry, and William Bradley-King, who signed to the active roster on Friday.
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