- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 26, 2016

ASHBURN — It is no secret that Junior Galette feels great. Since tearing his Achilles’ tendon last August less than a month after signing with the Washington Redskins, the outside linebacker has documented his progress vividly on social media. He’s received an outpouring of support on Twitter from Redskins fans and endeared himself to those that will cheer for him on game day, all before he’s yet to play a meaningful snap.

Recently, Galette posted a video of himself dunking a basketball. Teammates and coaches have lauded his explosiveness. Still, Galette roamed the sidelines during Wednesday’s organized team activities at Redskins Park and watched as his teammates ran through various drills.

It is the waiting that is the hardest part. Coach Jay Gruden said that Galette will be out until training camp, which begins July 27. Now, Galette is turning toward the home stretch of his return and the next two months should be easier after having to sit out all of last season.

“It’s been extremely hard, man,” Galette said on Wednesday. “One of the most difficult, adverse situations I’ve had in my life. Tough times don’t last, tough people do. This is what I’ve done with my life, beating adversity, looking it in the eye and say I’ll be better than I was before as a person and as a football player.

“Having a year off from football, something I love to do and is my passion, you just got that hunger. I feel like I’m an undrafted rookie all over again with something to prove to myself.”

The 28-year-old pass rusher tallied 22 sacks in 2013-14, the last two seasons he played for the New Orleans Saints before his unceremonious departure last July. He signed a one-year deal with the Redskins a week after his release and sustained the season-ending injury three weeks later.

Gruden and defensive coordinator Joe Barry had a vision of pairing Galette opposite Pro-Bowl outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan. Those visions abruptly vanished. In March, the Redskins retained Galette on a one-year, $1.6 million contract and rekindled that plan.

While Galette labored through his recovery last season, there was only so much time he could spend thinking about football, although it often was the only thing on his mind. He searched for new ways to invest himself, both financially and mentally. He constantly interacted with fans on Twitter, from both New Orleans and Washington. Galette tapped into his entrepreneurial side and helped open a pharmacy in New Orleans. According to Galette, he pops in every now and then but for the most part, he leaves the administrative business to a supervisor.

“I basically had to try to make a few investments, spend my time accordingly because I was just at home, like, ‘I can’t do this,’” Galette said. “Things are going well. I feel like [Saints fans are] still die hard fans that appreciate what I did for the city. I just left there on a side note, but it is what it is. I moved on, I’m here with Redskins nation and the fan base here is wonderful, been treating me with nothing but love.”

Now that Galette’s return is only two months away approaching, he can turn his attention back to football. His enthusiasm at Redskins Park has been duly noted, especially by Gruden, and the team is just as eager to get Galette back.

“So anxious, he is like a kid at Christmas and he is sitting up waiting on Santa Claus every day and he hasn’t come yet,” Gruden said. “He can’t wait to put on the pads and practice. He is working so hard with the trainers and on the sidelines listening to every call, he is into it. It’s going to be fun watching him getting back on the field, he’s very excited, and he’s doing everything he can to get out there. He probably could go right now but we are being extra cautious with him to make sure he is a hundred percent ready for training camp. It’s going to be an explosion when he comes back and that’s for sure.”

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