At the start of the 2021 NFL season, few rushing passing duos were as en vogue as defensive ends Chase Young and Montez Sweat. A disappointing season later, the duo combined for just 6.5 sacks in 19 games combined.

As OTAs have started for the Washington Commanders, head coach Ron Rivera remains confident in both players.

“[Sweat’s] has acquired a terrific skill set,” said coach Rivera. “As he grows and learns and understands how to use it, he also becomes more and more dynamic. I think it’s the same with Chase. Once we get Chase back on the court, it’s going to be about figuring out how to use his skills, not just his raw power or his athleticism.”

Rivera’s focus is primarily on both players developing the mental side of their game to match an elite level of athleticism that both players have demonstrated since their college days.

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The sweat became an overnight sensation at the 2019 NFL Combine when he ran a 4.41-second 40-yard sprint; this time broke the record for the fastest 40-yard dash by any defensive lineman in the modern combine era.

As a rookie, Sweat recorded seven sacks and two forced fumbles. His production didn’t increase until his sophomore year, as he racked up nine sacks and two forced fumbles along with 12 tackles for loss.

Young, like Sweat, was another athletic freak. The second overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft was one of the most touted prospects in draft history and caused an immediate stir as a rookie. In 15 games, the then 21-year-old recorded 7.5 sacks and four forced fumbles alongside 40 pressures. For his efforts, he received the 2020 Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year award.

Unfortunately, Young’s second campaign was cut short by a torn ACL after just nine games; yet, in those nine games, he only racked up 1.5 sacks.

With the 2022 NFL season fast approaching, both players will be looking to regain the form that made them one of the most anticipated duos just a season ago.

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