Washington Commanders’ cornerback Benjamin St-Juste has missed the last three games with a high-ankle sprain, but his absence is not expected to last much longer.
The second-year cornerback, who was listed as a limited participant in Tuesday’s walkthrough, told reporters that he will play on Saturday for Washington’s matchup against the San Francisco 49ers.
“I’m about to get in there and get some reps this week in practice, make sure everything is good, make sure I’m up to speed with the playbook,” St-Juste said. “I’m going to be out there this weekend.”
Earlier on Tuesday, head coach Ron Rivera was asked about his confidence in St-Juste being able to make his return this week. Unlike St-Juste, Rivera didn’t commit to the second-year cornerback playing but did offer confidence that he was trending in the right direction.
“He moved around very well,” Rivera said. “He had the kind of week last week where he was progressing, you just feel like he’s going to be there.” The head coach later added St-Juste has “looked pretty good lately” in his rehab.
St-Juste initially injured his ankle in Washington’s Week 11 victory over the Houston Texans. He was able to finish that contest, however, but then was unable to practice over the next two weeks before the Commanders’ late Week 14 bye.
Coming out of the bye, St-Juste was a limited participant in all three of the Commanders’ practices last week but was ultimately unable to play this past Sunday against the New York Giants.
“It’s a tricky situation with an ankle sprain. I’ve never had it before, so I didn’t know how to feel when it was good or not,” St-Juste said when asked how close he was to suiting up against the Giants.
“At [game time], it wasn’t ready for what I need to do at my position,” he added. “There’s a lot of breaking, cutting, breaks on the dime … so I want to make sure I’m 100% for my team. I think this week is a way better week to start it off.”
Rivera stressed the importance of St-Juste being able to confidently plant and drive off his injured ankle before returning to the field. “Coming off a high ankle, that’s one of the things you really have to see,” he said.
Prior to his injury, St-Juste had been playing arguably the best football of his career thus far. The 2021 third-round pick began the season as Washington’s nickel cornerback but shifted to his natural outside position following the benching (and eventual trade) of William Jackson III.
Since that switch, St-Juste has been given a lot more responsibility — including often taking on the opponent’s No. 1 receiver. He held his own against Vikings star Justin Jefferson and has performed admirably against other top wideouts. Rivera said Tuesday that Washington’s defense had to change some of its tactics since St-Juste went down.
With three games left, the Commanders sit in seventh place, the final Wild Card spot in the NFC. Washington controls its own playoff destiny but has a difficult schedule with San Francisco, Cleveland and Dallas remaining. Should he be able to play this week, St-Juste will provide a major boost to Washington’s defense — not just on Saturday but for the remainder of the season as well.