ASHBURN, Virginia -- Washington Redskins linebacker Junior Galette is sure of two things: He likes being here; he wants to play more. And those two thoughts might eventually clash when he hits free agency.
For now, though, all Galette wants are more chances to show what he can do. He’s coming off a season-high 35 snaps in the loss at the Los Angeles Chargers. But, still, Galette is on pace for 350 snaps in his role as a backup linebacker.
Galette missed the past two seasons after hurting both Achilles. The fact that he has recovered from that to help has been impressive. But Galette feels he’s capable of more. On Twitter, he has used the hashtag #Free58 when discussing his chances.
“I feel I haven’t lost a step,” he said. “I’m a top-tier pass-rusher in this league. I have every move you can think of. I have it. I want to play. Give me the amount of time and I’ll get you double-digit sacks and I’ll be the player that I was. I haven’t lost anything.
“I feel stronger. I’m taking care of my body. I’m lighter. I feel just as explosive, if not more. Just want opportunities. I love it here.”
The Redskins will point to two reasons why it’s hard to get Galette more snaps: Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith. They consider both stronger vs. the run -- not that Galette is weak in that area, but he's not as good as the other two. They also want to play rookie second-round pick Ryan Anderson. In addition, Galette missed a lot of time this summer with a hamstring injury that impacted his play.
But there is a desire by the Redskins to get Galette more time. Last week, Redskins coach Jay Gruden acknowledged the backup outside linebackers are probably “frustrated a little bit” with their playing time.
“But those guys have got to be patient and then, when they do get in there, take advantage of the reps, if they can,” Gruden said.
In 2013 and '14, Galette recorded a combined 22 sacks. But the Saints cut him in the summer before the 2015 training camp opened; the Redskins signed him shortly thereafter.
“They believed in me,” Galette said. “Everyone was comfortable with who I am and allowed me to be myself. I’m very thankful.”
But, he wants to play. Galette has applied pressure on the quarterback on 33 percent of the pass plays in which he’s been on the field; that’s the same number as Smith, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Smith has five sacks in 303 rushes; Galette has two in 177.
Galette said one of the few times he’s been able to find any rhythm was in a four-play stretch vs. the New York Giants. He rushed inside on first down from a stand-up position. On second down, from a four-point stance, he tried to go wide but was stopped. Then, he used a spin move to the inside on third down, coming off and applying pressure. On fourth down, he dipped his shoulder inside, got the tackle leaning, and beat him to the outside for a sack/fumble.
“It’s a rhythm. Proof is in the pudding right there,” Galette said.
He’ll take those reps even if they come on run downs. The key to finding that rhythm is just being on the field.
“Just being out there getting a feel for the cadence,” he said. “So much goes into getting to the quarterback. You wouldn’t think a run play can help you. But just getting your head-butt and feeling loose as opposed to you haven’t played in four or five series and then, ‘Go out there!’ OK, I don’t know what the cadence is, I have to look at the ball more. You’re kind of on the fly.”
He’s had games in which he played just 14 snaps. Sometimes he’ll watch practice tapes to look for reasons why he might not be playing more.
“You’re psyched up going into the game and next thing you know it’s halftime and you’re thinking about the four plays that you had,” he said. “That can be so devastating to your confidence and your pride. Doing everything; encouraging other guys but mentally ... you’re not talking about a guy that’s not proven here. I’ve been in the games. I take the game over. That’s the feeling I had before I left.”
But Galette can’t control his playing time. If he’s going to get only a certain number of snaps, then he’ll have to find a way to make it work. That’s the life of a reserve. However, at 29, Galette said he knows he could be doing more to help.
“I’ll just go out and play my tail off and someone will notice,” he said. “I still have three games left. A lot of what I do in the next three games can help me in the offseason. I won't bad-mouth the organization. I want to stay here ... but I also want to play.”