METAIRIE, La. — When Junior Galette slipped into Saints camp as a bright-eyed undrafted rookie free agent, he was just hoping to work his way onto an NFL roster.
Four years later and firmly entrenched on the roster, he’s still going about his training camp days as if he’s the 54th player trying to make the 53-man roster.
And maybe that’s one of the reasons he has become a fan favorite even though he has seen only limited time in games for the black and gold.
“You just can’t lose that edge. Don’t ever get comfortable,” Galette said. “That’s the same mindset I have every day. I wake up every day and thank God he gave me that mindset, to not get complacent and to keep going hard to be where I want to be.”
In Saturday’s Black & Gold scrimmage, Galette shined brightly, coming through with two sacks, one against the first team and one against the second, and another pressure. He was active and disruptive and energetic.
Not that that’s anything new. First-year defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has continually praised Galette throughout camp for his motor.
“He’s doing that every day,” Ryan said. “Only thing with Junior is his stamina, because he’s so excitable, he’s such a fierce competitor. I’ve heard rumors he’ll run out of gas. We’ve got to keep him playing like a professional because he’s going to be outstanding.
“The only body that can stop him is going to be Junior.”
In 2012, that’s exactly what happened. Only an ankle injury kept him from playing all 16 games.
But it’s what he did in the other 12 that gives you an idea of what he can do. Galette played in just 34 percent (298 of 873 plays) of the possible defensive plays available and still finished third on the team with five sacks.
But that was at defensive end in a 4-3 defense. Now he’s playing the “Sam” outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. Galette, though, says the transition is not a big deal.
“People think it’s a big adjustment but we’re really defensive ends in this defense,” he said, adding, “It’s just a slight adjustment in dropping and we did that last year as well. We got into some drops that (Steve Spagnuolo) had. It’s really not as difficult as people think it is.”
Galette now has become a leader on the Saints defense, teaching younger players how to go about the business of being an NFL player.
“I think it is just maybe a little bit more leadership, showing my veteran presence to the younger guys, showing them how to be a pro, just learning how to be a pro, more off the field, and that’s what Joe (Vitt) and Sean (Payton) emphasize, to be a leader to the younger guys coming up,” Galette said.
The youngsters would be wise to listen.
Galette has gone from fan-favorite backup to an NFL starter and he doesn’t plan on changing his ways now.
“It’s the same mindset. You can’t lose that edge,” Galette said. “I can’t lose that edge that I’ve had the whole time to kind of get to where I’m at right now. It’s not over yet. I don’t even think I’m halfway there.
“It’s a big step. It’s a bigger step than last year. But same mindset. You’ve got to feel like the 53rd man that’s going to make the roster. Always got to keep that hunger.”