An elite pass rusher prior to a pair of torn Achilles, Junior Galette is getting back into football shape quickly thanks to daily competition with Pro Bowler Trent Williams.
For two years, Washington Redskins linebacker Junior Galette had to watch from the side as the team that signed him in training camp during the 2015 season continued to recover from two torn Achilles.
With the injuries now behind him, Galette's confident that he can still be a game-changing pass rusher. But there's no getting past the rust of not experiencing game action dating back to December 2014.
For most players in his shoes, training camp would be a slow transition period back into the fray. Not for Galette, though, who has been asked to go against five-time Pro Bowl tackle Trent Williams during 1-on-1 pass rush drills.
"[Its] the best way to get better," Galette said. "He's going into Year Eight and I played six years… I can't think of an NFL lineman that's better than him so you have to take advantage. Every chance I get to go up against him I tell him, 'I'm not going to take [this] play off,' because you don't get to see a lineman like that every Sunday."
What made Galette so special as a pass rusher prior to his injuries was his speed and explosiveness off the line of scrimmage. Set up in a four-point stance with his facemask just inches off the ground, Galette would use his speed to create issues for offensive linemen.
In his last two seasons with the New Orleans Saints, Galette recorded 22 combined sacks.
While Galette's speed off the hike is still his biggest asset, Williams matches his athleticism.
"He can literally jump set you and you can try to run around him and he's still in great shape, most linemen don't even think about jump setting speed rushes, but he's done that to me a couple of times where I had to go back in the lab like, 'Oh, this can't happen again,'" Galette said. "and I have to refine those skills and find a way to beat him. So everything he does is everything you ask for in a left tackle."
Washington's goal with Galette while the team is down at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center in Richmond, Va., is to determine just how much he has left and how they can utilize him on a defense that's prioritizing aggressiveness.
Check out behind the scenes images from Linebacker, Junior Galette's 2017 Redskins Photo Shoot.
Ryan Kerrigan, of course, has been the team's top pass rusher for years now, but the outside linebacking corps is arguably the deep it's been in years.
Galette is competing with Ryan Anderson, Trent Murphy and Preston Smith for playing time in the rotation, but if he can resemble something similar to his peak form with the Saints, the Redskins have someone they can count on to get in opposing quarterbacks' heads.
"Pass rushers this day in age that are dominant pass rushers like he was in New Orleans are hard to find," said Redskins head coach Jay Gruden. "Unfortunately, he had two [injured] Achilles but now he's back. We just have to play it by year and see how he does. I'm excited. He has got great energy out there, he works hard and has won a bunch of 1-on-1s already out there, 1-on-1 pass rush and he's played good against the run so far."
Football is what Galette was born to play, and he's happy to be back in the flow of the NFL lifestyle.
"I wouldn't say I took [football] for granted, but everything from the food that they have the first day at camp, the players, and the meetings, and the little 30-minute nap that you get and breaks throughout that process, seeing the staff and the coaches and everybody, that team bonding, every single thing," Galette said. "I miss the Gatorade, everything."