When Washington Redskins fullback Darrel Young strained his hamstring almost four weeks ago, he couldn’t help but experience flashbacks from the 2009 preseason. Then a rookie linebacker out of Villanova, Young was cut before re-signing with Washington’s practice squad.

Darrel Young, pre-injury(John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

“It was miserable because after getting cut in ‘09 and then getting hurt, missing two games, it was like, ‘Why now?’” said Young, who last season switched to fullback but played sparingly. This preseason, he beat out Mike Sellers for the team’s starting fullback job. “But at the same time, I was doing something wrong, I feel, and I think it was an eye-opener for me to work harder and appreciate the things that I have.”

Young said he realized that once the season began, he stopped doing the little things he focused on during training camp to ensure he maintained his health. He stopped getting checked out by team doctors, he wasn’t stretched out as thoroughly, and he stopped soaking in the cold tub after practices.

“Those are the things you take for granted when you’re in a position of playing,” Young said. “I think the key to staying in this league is doing that stuff.”

After three weeks of relative inactivity, Young says, “I feel ten times better. I was a little nervous going into Monday’s practice because I didn’t know what to expect, but I feel good. I stayed through the bye week to receive treatment three times a day, but I feel good. I feel comfortable to where I’m at and I just want to get better, and I want to stay healthy.”

Young believes that now fully healthy, he can help the Redskins, but he wouldn’t say that his teammates missed his presence on the field while he was out.

“I don’t think anything was missing because I think [Chris] Cooley did a great job,” Young said referring to the tight end who filled in at fullback. “Any time you’ve got [Ryan] Torain averaging seven yards a carry and 5.1 after contact, I don’t think they’re missing me, but it’s just good to be back out there finally. It’s a dream come true to be in the NFL for me, and to be injured is something I just don’t even want to deal with.”

Cooley, whose route-running opportunities were limited by having to stay in and block, likely will embrace Young’s return as well.