After completing his first minicamp practice with the Redskins, outside linebacker Junior Galette is itching to show the team what they've been waiting for over the last two years.
After missing two consecutive seasons with separate torn Achilles heels, outside linebacker Junior Galette understands that he can be classified as an unknown commodity for the Redskins.
Enjoying the team's minicamp for the first time since he signed with Washington in 2015, Galette has been anticipating his return to the field ever since he was taken off it. In the meantime, the Redskins have added depth at his position, but hope that he can return to the form that made him such a valuable pass rusher with the Saints.
Galette has bigger ideas.
"I think I'm going to be better than what I was," he said. "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."
Part of what's driving Galette, 29, is extending his career to make up for missed time. He sees there is money to be made in his mid-thirties and doesn't want to have regrets about giving up on football based on injuries he had the physical and mental strength to return from.
That's required a day-by-day approach to his offseason, making sure both Achilles tears had fully healed. He admitted Tuesday that he had to lose a lot of weight as he prepared for OTAs and is playing about 12 pounds lighter than his standard playing weight, around 263 pounds.
That's allowed him to be much more explosive, he said, even though he's operating around 80 percent, easing his way back to full strength.
"First off, I'm not really taking it easy on myself," Galette said. "I got to take advantage of the opportunity I have to go against the best left tackle in the league and the best right tackle in the league, I don't get opportunity to rush against guys at that caliber. So you know, when I come out obviously today with the whole minicamp, he told me to turn it down, just get a good look, stay away from the quarterback but camp comes around I'm going to turn it up and be the person who I am."
The Washington Redskins defense and special teams held their first minicamp practice of 2017 on June 13, 2017, at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.
Galette was glad to have another chance with the Redskins when he agreed on another contract to extend him into 2017. He kept in touch with coaches and players, keeping them updated on his recovery and has been looking to repay the franchise for the two years they have invested in him.
He might not have been able to go through that off time without some humor and distraction. Galette said he got much better at video games, listened to a lot of good music, and understandably, continued to watch football, struggling to push away the sport he loved and knew he'd be playing again soon.
"You gotta be able to laugh at yourself, that's just life in general," Galette said. "You got to be able to laugh at yourself and just not be so serious all the time and know that even through a devastating moment, I'm still alive and I'm blessed and I'm healthy, that there's other people out there who didn't even wake up. So you got to be able to not take life too serious and be able to have a lot of have pride in what you do but have fun with it. I have a beautiful son, loving family, I got a lot to live for."