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'He tried to be something that he's not': Chase Young looks to rebound in third NFL season

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Buccaneers Washington Football

Chase Young was named the NFL’s defensive rookie of the year in the 2020 season, but struggled to make an impact in the first half of 2021.

Chase Young walked around the Los Angeles Convention Center on Saturday with no brace, another step forward in his recovery from a torn ACL during the 2021 season.

The former rookie of the year said he’s beginning to jog and continues to make good progress.

But for Young, the star of Washington’s defensive line, it’s the mental work that will be just as important as the physical.

Young and Commanders coach Ron Rivera both appeared at the USAA’s “Salute to Service” military appreciation lounge over the weekend.

Rivera said he thought Young got away from the things that make him special, and that he communicated that during their offseason conversations.

“I believe he’s learned to play to his strengths,” Rivera said. “I think last year he tried to be something that he’s not, in terms of his technique and style.

“He’s a physical football player, and I’d love to see him get back to his physical style and not as much a finesse type of guy.

“I mean, he’s such a dynamic player. I think he should play to that. And that’s one of the things that he and I talked about when we had our postseason exit interviews.”

Rivera said one thing he’s appreciated is that Young has been both “all in” on his rehab but also remains in conversation with the team and coaches.

Last season, Young was one of a handful of players who opted not to participate in the team’s optional workouts.

“I’m very pleased about what he’s been doing,” Rivera said of Young’s offseason work.

Young said he views his game as a perpetual work in progress.

“You’re never finished, man,” he said. “You never outgrow the sport. So there’s always stuff to learn.”

Asked about his conversations with Rivera, Young said he believes there’s a time and a place for each tool.

“You can use physicality, you can use finesse,” he said. “I feel like it just depends on the game we’re playing.”

During his time with USAA, Young gave tickets to the Super Bowl to a military family. Young’s grandfather served in the military.

“I’m blessed to be able to do this,” he said.

“I know my grandfather would be pretty proud of me, giving back to his line of brothers.”

mphillips@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6546

Twitter: @michaelpRTD

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