RICHMOND — Outside linebacker Junior Galette’s second week with the Washington Redskins has taken on a different vibe.
His signing, which followed a bevy of bad news, began with questions about his past. After having a civil lawsuit dismissed last week, and hopping into his first work in team drills Saturday afternoon, concerns about Galette now revolve more around his health and just what he could do as a pass-rushing complement to Ryan Kerrigan.
Galette tore his left pectoral muscle while benching 365 pounds in June, when he was still with the New Orleans Saints. The weight rested on his chest after he heard his pec “ripping like a towel.” A spotter helped push it off.
Galette knew something was wrong. However, he took having full range of motion as a positive sign. The healing process became the question. Galette said he received three opinions from doctors. The Saints’ doctor told Galette he needed surgery, according to Galette. Two other doctors said he did not.
He chose to rest and rehabilitate instead of opt for surgery, which he said would cause a five-month recovery process at a crucial point in his career. As the only faction to tell Galette he needed surgery, the Saints did not further themselves to him. Galette was a costly cut for the Saints seven weeks later.
“Trust factor was not there when you’re telling me I need surgery,” Galette said. “It is what it is. I’m here.”
Galette performed a lot of “ridiculous” rehab. He upgraded the strength in his pec from around 80 percent last week to a hard “93 percent” on Saturday. Galette was so upset with how he was injured, he’s gone away from the bench press with a full bar. He uses dumbbells now.
He also mentioned that the Redskins place a block on the chest of the bencher so the bar does not descend all the way to the chest, theoretically protecting a player from the sort of pectoral tear that befell Galette.
“I was benching [at] 7:30 in the morning,” Galette said. “Why? Why am I doing that? Friday morning, on my day off — it makes no sense. Why am I doing that? Benching my day off, why? We don’t do that here. If we bench heavy, there’s going to be a block, which is amazing, you don’t go all the way down. That’s the smart way to lift.”
Galette was quick to temper criticism of his former team, opting instead to lavish more praise on the Redskins. He reiterated that he’s been embraced since arriving, saying he was down and the Redskins have picked him up.
He had 12 sacks in 2013 and 10 more in 2014. Kerrigan had a career-high 13.5 sacks last season as the Saints’ lone pass-rush threat. In the middle, Stephen Paea had six sacks last season with the Chicago Bears. Jason Hatcher, 33, had 11 sacks as recently as 2013, though he had just five last season, his first with the Redskins.
Galette’s speed, low-to-the-ground approach and flexibility are apparent even in practice. He said he can do splits both ways, and that his lateral movement and quickness are why he went from undrafted out of Stillman, a Division II college. He started his college career at Temple, but was suspended and chose to transfer prior to his senior year.
The Redskins have taken a chance on Galette. The right words and deeds have followed, if only for two weeks so far.