Galette: ‘I’m hu­man after all’

Line­backer up­beat on com­ing back from 2nd Achilles in­jury

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - BY NORA PRINCIOTTI

Ju­nior Galette felt in­vin­ci­ble. Wouldn’t you? He’d had his share of knocks, many of them self-in­flicted wounds, but he was an un­drafted player who had grown into one of the best pass rush­ers in the NFL.

Noth­ing, it seemed, could stop his as­cent. Con­flict with his for­mer Saints team­mates and coaches, plus ac­cu­sa­tions of do­mes­tic abuse, led to his re­lease from New Or­leans in the sum­mer of 2015 only after he’d been guar­an­teed $23 mil­lion in a con­tract re­struc­tured be­fore those events. The Red­skins signed him to a one-year deal and Galette could rea­son­ably fig­ure that, with a third­straight dou­ble-digit sea­son in sacks, an­other big con­tract would fol­low.

When Galette tore his Achilles ten­don dur­ing train­ing camp in 2015, he still felt in­vin­ci­ble. Could he even truly be hurt? He pushed it with his re­cov­ery time­line, work­ing out three times a day against doc­tor’s or­ders.

“That’s what I just knew,” Galette said. “I was an un­drafted free agent, so I al­ways had to work to prove my­self. I went to a small school, so that’s all I was — I was a prod­uct of my en­vi­ron­ment, and that’s all I was around, just hard-work­ing and make sure you do your best, beat your op­po­nent and out­work the next man, and un­for­tu­nately I was beat­ing my­self and I was out­work­ing my­self to the point where my body was break­ing down.”

The Red­skins gave him an­other oneyear deal, and Galette had re­cov­ered from surgery in time for train­ing camp in 2016. Then, the un­think­able hap­pened. An­other pop, this time in Galette’s other heel. He’d torn his sec­ond Achilles ten­don and still hadn’t played a game.

“I learned that I’m hu­man after all,” Galette said. “Play­ing five years in a row and never get­ting hurt, I learned that I was hu­man. If I don’t take care of my­self

off the field, things on the field won’t go as I want them to.”

Galette changed his ap­proach to re­hab. After surgery, he called his doc­tors reg­u­larly to ask what, and how much, he could do phys­i­cally. He was still up­beat, of­ten mak­ing fun of him­self on so­cial me­dia (in one tweet he lamented rap­per Ken­drick La­mar’s new­est al­bum by call­ing it “Weaker den my Achilles” and also posted a pic­ture with two Cry­ing Jor­dan memes cov­er­ing his an­kles) but he won­dered if the Red­skins, or any other team, would give him an­other shot.

Spend­ing time with fam­ily and get­ting “re­ally good at video games” helped, as did check-ins via text from then-out­side lineback­ers coach Greg Manusky and coach Jay Gru­den.

“We try to check on them,” Gru­den said. “You try to keep them mo­ti­vated so they don’t get down too much. You’re go­ing to need them even­tu­ally and Ju­nior will hope­fully be a big player for us and get­ting him­self ready to go. Hard work pays off, es­pe­cially for these great play­ers.”

The Red­skins signed Galette to a third one-year deal this off­sea­son and were sur­prised when he was ready to par­tic­i­pate dur­ing or­ga­nized team ac­tiv­i­ties in May. Galette, whose ten­dons thick­ened post-surgery enough to bump him up an en­tire shoe size, says he’s about 80 per­cent right now.

Galette has also lost, by his es­ti­ma­tion, 12-15 pounds off his old play­ing weight of 263, and plans to keep the weight off. His ex­plo­sion, the cov­etable trait that led the Saints and Red­skins to give him mul­ti­ple chances, is even bet­ter now that he’s lighter, Galette be­lieves.

“I just feel a lot lighter and I feel a lot more ex­plo­sive,” Galette said. “Peo­ple who don’t be­lieve it, I’m go­ing to show you.”

It’s pos­si­ble some rib­bing from Gru­den could also have helped Galette slim down.

“I think after the sec­ond in­jury he gained a lit­tle weight, a lit­tle frus­trated, a lit­tle down on him­self, maybe, I don’t know. His face looked a lit­tle chunky when I first saw him, but he came in and lost the weight, no prob­lem,” Gru­den said, chuck­ling. “Ju­nior is a hard worker.”

As­sum­ing Galette makes it through train­ing camp this year, what he’ll be able to of­fer the Red­skins is dif­fi­cult to pre­dict. He has mostly worked with the sec­ond team de­fense in prac­tices over the last month and even Galette has said that it’s im­pos­si­ble to fig­ure out where he is in non-con­tact prac­tices, and with play­ers like tackle Trent Wil­liams hav­ing just re­joined the team.

While pay­ing him just $800,000, as­sum­ing he makes the ros­ter, the Red­skins would gladly take any­thing even close to what Galette was able to do his last two years in New Or­leans. That, how­ever, would not be enough for Galette.

“I don’t want to come back the way I was. I want to be bet­ter than I was . ... I feel like I do have what it takes,” Galette said. “I don’t want to be 35 years old and look­ing back and say­ing hey, why did I re­tire? You know, at 28, 29 years old, why not give it a lit­tle more shot? I’m see­ing guys 30, 31 years old get­ting paid 50-60 mil­lion dol­lars. I’m not go­ing to turn that down.”

Galette has re­al­ized he’s only hu­man but, at least once more, he thinks he can shake the odds.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Wash­ing­ton Red­skins line­backer Ju­nior Galette is at­tempt­ing to come back from a a sec­ond torn Achilles ten­don in train­ing camp last sea­son after re­cov­er­ing from surgery on an­other torn Achilles ten­don suf­fered the pre­vi­ous train­ing camp.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.