After suffering a torn left Achilles' tendon before ever playing a single game with the Redskins, linebacker Junior Galette is ready to prove himself to the team in 2016.
Junior Galette was asked a fairly innocuous question: Would he be staying in Northern Virginia for his offseason workouts, or would he be heading back to his home in Louisiana for a few months?
"*Louisiana?" Galette asked, astonished. "This is my home. No. I'm in Ashburn. This is my home. I'm staying here."
Then, to show the depth of his dedication to the Washington Redskins, the outside linebacker rolled up one of the sleeves of his shirt. Tattooed on his right biceps was the Redskins' logo, which he said he got "like a week" after he signed with the team in July.
"I'm not playing [around]," Galette said. "I really am serious about this. I'm here, in spite of my journey, you know what I'm saying? That's how serious I am."
Galette, 27, signed a one-year deal with the Redskins after five years with the New Orleans Saints, who released him in July after growing concerns about his behavior. In mid-August, around when he felt comfortable enough with his conditioning to play in a preseason game, he tore his left Achilles' tendon — an injury that rendered him out for the season.
His contract will not commute because of the injury, as it would for a suspension, but Galette will likely remain with the Redskins next season. General manager Scot McCloughan said in August that he would be interested in signing Galette to a second contract — and Galette insisted on Monday, when players cleaned out their lockers and took exit physicals after the Redskins were knocked out of the playoffs, that he would accept it if offered.
That contract would serve as the next stage of rehabilitation to Galette, who believes he was wronged by the Saints and said he is motivated by an ability to clear his name and be a responsible father to his two-year-old son.
The Washington Redskins today announced the signing of linebacker Junior Galette. Take a look back at the pass rusher's five-year NFL career.
"I'm worried about getting my name back to a place where people can say, 'Hey, that's a mature young man. That's a professional,' you know what I'm saying?" Galette said. "That's what I'm worried about. I'm worried about my son being able to search my name three or four years from now and it's nothing negative about me."
If healthy, Galette would have provided the Redskins with an athletic pass rusher opposite Ryan Kerrigan, who finished the season with 9.5 sacks, the second-highest total in his career. Galette had a combined 22 sacks in his previous two seasons, and defensive coordinator Joe Barry said during the season that Galette is an "impact player" and that it "would have been great to have him" as part of the defense.
Instead, the Redskins went with a rotation of Trent Murphy, entering his second year, and Preston Smith, a rookie, throughout the season. Murphy, who had 3.5 sacks, was gradually supplanted in playing time by Smith, who had five of his eight sacks in the final three games of the regular season and added another — scoring a safety — in the first-round playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.
Galette pointed to Smith's development, Kerrigan's steady play and the performance of the Redskins' defensive linemen, specifically defensive ends Chris Baker and Ricky Jean Francois, as reasons why he believes the defense can be successful while playing aggressive.
It's a defense that Galette wants to be a part of, which is why he expressed an overwhelming desire on Monday to be on the field when next season begins.
"You've got to be uncomfortable," Galette said. "I was there and I embraced it. I'm here now at a level mentally that I've never been in my life, and I'm just ready to attack this offseason like I never have before and I just want to prove who I am as a player."
Read more Washington Redskins coverage in The Washington Times: http://www.washingtontimes.com/sports/washington-redskins/.