Held out of all four preseason games while a hamstring pulled early in training camp healed, Washington Redskins fullback Darrel Young at last has returned to form, and will play in the season opener Sunday at New Orleans.
“I’m ready to go,” declared Young, who enters his third NFL season and second as Washington’s starting fullback. “I’m 150 percent. One hundred percent healthy, and the extra 50 percent’s mental. I felt great about how I practiced. I practiced last week, but it was servicing our guys by running Tampa Bay’s stuff, so I didn’t really get a chance to work on our stuff. I was running off the cards. But, I had to prove myself in doing something. I couldn’t just step right in there.”
Young pulled his left hamstring at the team’s July 30th practice. He hoped to return to the field in two to three weeks, but ended up sitting out longer. Young wanted to knock off some rust in the final preseason game, but coaches chose to limit him to practice as a precaution.
Young said after running the scout team offense last week, it feels good to be back to his role in Washington’s system. Although he hasn’t had any game action, Young believes adrenaline will take over Sunday and make up for his limited preparation.
“I’ll be rusty, but I’ll be so excited to hit somebody that I don’t think the rust will show,” Young said. “Hitting guys in practice, I was reminded why I love this game. The day before I got hurt, I looked at Chris Foerster, the offensive line coach, and I said, ‘What’s the percent of the population that wakes up and loves their job? Probably less than three percent. You know what? This is something I love.’ I got hurt that day, but I’m blessed to have the opportunity to play again. I’m 25, the sky’s the limit.”
The Redskins last week released Chris Cooley, who had started at fullback with Young sidelined, and waived undrafted rookie Dorson Boyce, who was injured in the final preseason game. That leaves Young as the only fullback on the roster. Young said he feels pressure to produce, first, because the team could easily sign another fullback at any time, and because he has lofty goals.
“I want to be at the top of the league at fullback. I’m not talking just NFC,” Young says. “And I’m not talking from an arrogant standpoint, that’s just what I want to be. Am I better than a lot of guys? I don’t know. But I plan to play really hard this year and go after it.”