Commanders players under most pressure
Hirdesh: Not sure who else it could be other than Chase Young. After coming into the league with well-deserved hype and finishing as the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, his two subsequent seasons have been injury-plagued.
The Washington Commanders also declined to pick up his fifth-year option. He’s in a “play for pay” situation, where Young needs to earn his next contract either with his current employers or elsewhere.
Jon: The quarterback always has the most pressure, but Sam Howell should get at least a brief honeymoon period to start the season. Not so for Chase Young.
He has gone from being a budding superstar at the end of his rookie season to a potential major bust entering his fourth year. Health is a major factor, and his recent setback is cause for enormous concern.
Young needs to be a playmaker in order for this defense to function as it is supposed to, and he needs to prove he can be an elite player to reap the rewards of a huge contract approaching free agency. So there is both team-oriented and personal pressure on the edge rusher this season.
Dean: My colleagues have both gone with Chase Young, which is pretty obvious, so I'll venture in a different direction. Charles Leno Jr. is the only veteran starter who kept his job on the Commanders' offensive line, but there is immense pressure for the left tackle to raise his performance levels with high stakes across the board in 2023.
Leno was the best of a bad bunch on the protection last season and is an influential figure within the locker room. Keeping Sam Howell's blindside intact is going to be critical to Washington's hopes of attaining playoff football, so anything less than excellence won't be well received.