As the Redskins begin preparing for the offseason program, they are wary of keeping the reigns tight on linebacker Junior Galette, coming back from two Achilles injuries.
At this point, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden doesn't know exactly what to expect from linebacker Junior Galette, removed two years from playing due to two separate Achilles injuries. But hope remains that a third opportunity will see the fruits of the team's and Galette's dedication.
Speaking with reporters at the 2017 League Meetings in Phoenix, Ariz., Gruden knows that if Galette can return to his former self with the New Orleans Saints, the pass rush can only get stronger.
"Injuries are a part of football, so [it's] nothing you could predict," Gruden said. "[At] one time, he was one of the most dynamic pass rushers in the game, with his tenacity and his ability to get off on the ball. He has a great, great get off. Hopefully, that hasn't been affected. That's one thing he's got to work toward getting back, because you can't coach the speed [and how] he gets out of his stance and gets around that tackle before he gets out of his stance. He's the best at that."
In order to unleash that potential again, however, the team will likely have to take more precautions in how it transitions Galette back to the field.
That's primarily because Galette, so keen on competing, has the tendency to push himself to the point of risking injury again if not monitored – wanting to play full speed even when it's not required.
"That's something that the trainers will keep me posted [on], and that's something that the player, we'll work very closely [with]," Gruden said. "Knowing Junior, and the way he's worked to get back, he's the type of guy we're going to have to say, 'No, shut it down,' and he's going to say, 'No, I'm practicing,' and [we'll say], 'No, you're [shutting] it down,' and there will be an argument, and maybe a fist fight or something, but hopefully we'll win out. He's a guy that just loves to play, loves to practice and he wants to be on the field so bad. I know him, and just talking to him that we're going to have to figure out a way to tame him a little bit."
In the limited time on the field, Gruden noted Galette being a great practice player and his love for the game, evident in his willingness to take minimal contracts to regain his footing in the league.
"As soon as we get back and do spring training, [I'm ready] so I can get the steps and the footing," Galette told Redskins.com in February. "Certain techniques, foot and hand placement that you will lose if you don't work on it. I know I'm not there right now, but I feel like I am healthy enough to play during the spring training. I just need to tone it down since I was training about three times a day last year."
With the potential of suspension for linebacker Trent Murphy, one of the team's top sack-getters last season, a healthy return to action for Galette would be a gift that the Redskins have patiently waited to unwrap and would provide another potent threat along the defensive line.
"He just wants to go out there and play and prove how good he is," Gruden said. "Hopefully, at the end of the day, he'll get the contract that he wants. He's got to go out and do it, [and] he's willing to do it."