Redskins training camp
Through Aug. 13, Richmond
A productive relationship
Junior Galette has been a mentor to rookie Ryan Anderson.
richmond — When Ryan Anderson first arrived at Redskins Park, the rookie approached Junior Galette. The 22-year-old told Galette, 29, that when he was in high school he had admired watching Galette’s early NFL career.
Galette was humbled, in more ways than one.
“I was like, ‘Damn, I’m old,’ ” Galette said. “I had to realize that I’m a lot older now, 29 years old, and this kid is 22.”
Only in sports can 29 feel old. Despite the age gap, the respect is mutual between the two outside linebackers, who could provide the Washington Redskins with a level of depth they haven’t had at the position during Jay Gruden’s tenure as head coach.
As a teenager at Daphne High in Alabama, Anderson recalled, he watched Galette play for the New Orleans Saints. Anderson had been impressed by Galette’s journey from going undrafted out of college to recording 22 total sacks as a starter in 2013 and 2014.
“He worked his way up to the top,” Anderson said. “He was an effort guy. He played hard, don’t take many plays off. That’s what I respect about his game.”
Anderson, a second-round pick out of Alabama, has been attached to Galette during his first three months with the organization. He often has been spotted with Galette at offseason practices and training camp, picking his brain on the sideline and as they walk off the field.
Galette, likewise, has praised Anderson’s ability to pick up the playbook quickly.
“Obviously, everyone has areas in their game that they need to improve, but mentally, he’s definitely there,” Galette said. “You wouldn’t think that he’s a rookie. He comes in, and he knows his stuff. Sometimes, I ask him like, ‘Hey, what’s going on here?’ when we’re out on the field. Whether he’s wrong or not, he’s communicating and making sure that he’s on his toes.”
As the season approaches, Galette and Anderson are trying to establish themselves in training camp — but for different reasons. Galette is hoping to return to his form from 2014, the last season he was healthy enough to play. He has been sidelined the last two seasons with the Redskins because of season-ending Achilles’ injuries to each heel.
Heading into Saturday’s practice, Galette’s burst and quickness look similar to what he exhibited with the Saints. He has been the only pass rusher to give left tackle Trent Williams a consistent challenge during one-on-one passrushing drills.
“He’s now, what, an eight-year pro? He’s smart. He knows the game,” Williams said. “He’s been around for a minute. He knows how to use his rushes to his advantage. He’s just a really good player.”
Anderson is attempting to make an impact as a rookie. He is behind four experienced outside linebackers at the position, but Anderson could receive a role during the start of the season while Trent Murphy serves a fourgame suspension.
At Alabama, Anderson was known for his motor and toughness. He finished with 141/2 sacks, 30 tackles for losses, five forced fumbles, three passes defended, an interception and a defensive touchdown during his final two seasons (28 games) with the Crimson Tide.
“That’s what drew us to Ryan in the draft,” Gruden said about that toughness. “He’s definitely an ‘alpha’ and a leader. He plays hard. Same with Junior, but that’s the mentality you want your defense to have. The more of those guys, the better . . . . That type of personality is contagious, and that’s what we want.”
As long as Galette remains healthy, he will receive an opportunity to prove that he is still an explosive pass rusher in the league. For Anderson, it will be a season-long process. There may be spurts where he is capable of displaying his ability at outside linebacker during the season, but with the depth at the position, Anderson’s best chance at playing time could occur on special teams barring an unforeseen injury.
“Ryan Anderson is finding his way right now,” Gruden said. “Junior is trying to find his way back. Both of them probably aren’t quite as vocal as they probably will be in the future if they start to perform very well, play to the level they think they can. Junior is trying to get himself back to shape, and Ryan is trying to learn the system and find a way to fit in.”
Rookie outside linebacker Ryan Anderson, hitting a sled Saturday, is learning from Junior Galette.