Junior Galette was something of a forgotten man during the Redskins’ offseason program. That will happen when a player misses back-to-back seasons as Galette did with a pair of Achilles tears, one in each leg.
Despite the missed time, Galette is confident that he can regain the form that he had when he racked up 12 sacks in 2013 and 10 in 2014. That got him a big contract extension from the Saints but they quickly moved on after Galette went through some off-field issues.
In fact, Galette, 29, thinks that he can be superior to what he was in New Orleans.
“I think I’m going to be better than what I was,” he said after a minicamp practice this week. “Honestly, if I didn’t feel like that, I wouldn’t even come back. I don’t want to come back the way I was, I want to be better than what I was you know? So, it’s just the level of confidence that I have in myself in overcoming a lot of obstacles in life that took me here and molded me into this person I am today with extreme confidence and I feel like I do have what it takes.”
One thing that could make Galette better is his new weight. His typical playing weight has been around 263 pounds. He has dropped about 15 pounds and will play in the upper 240s. Certainly, he will trade some ability to set the edge against the rush for some additional quickness while rushing the passer.
Jay Gruden was among many who were surprised to see Galette participating in 11-on-11 work during OTAs about 10 months after his last Achilles tear. He said that it looks like Galette still has his most important assets as a pass rusher.
“Yeah, I wasn’t expecting to see Junior a whole lot this time of year, really,” said Gruden. “We’re trying to get him healthy. But he’s been out there working and he’s done a nice job. He knows he’s got a little ways to go, but you can still see that he’s got the quick twitch, which you really need off the edge. He can bend, and now as far as stamina goes, he’s going to continue to work to get in shape.”
MORE REDSKINS: Top pick Allen progressing slowly, by design
The Redskins must be careful when it comes to Galette. As much as they might like to, they just can’t count on Galette to be available for 16 games. They already have exercised caution by drafting OLB Ryan Anderson in the second round, adding him to a group of edge rushers that includes Galette, Preston Smith, Ryan Kerrigan, and Trent Murphy. So even if Galette is unavailable for whatever reasons, the Redskins still go four deep with solid pass rushers (after Murphy’s four-game suspension is over).
They really can’t lose with Galette. His salary cap hit is $800,000, almost insignificant as part of the $167 million total cap. If he is healthy he can work in situations where he can be most effective, likely when it's third down and the offense has six or more yards to go. If he ends up getting injured again or is ineffective, meanwhile, the Redskins have enough depth to deal with it.