LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

Lyons Yellin / WWLTV.com Sports Reporter
Email: lyellin@wwltv.com | Twitter: @wwltvsports

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- It's not hard to get to know Junior Galette. Whether through his numerous personal appearances around New Orleans or his active social media offerings, the affable, upbeat and loquacious Haitian-born Saints linebacker actually makes it quite easy.

Remarkably self-confident, with nary a shred of arrogance, Galette holds nothing back, not off the field nor on it.

And after a breakout season in 2013 that included 12 sacks and the accompanying '#Bodybag' dance the Big Easy has embraced the 'Sackman' as its latest budding star.

Now, as the Saints begin three weeks of practices at the Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, on Friday, Galette is poised for an even bigger season, and looks to a microcosm of the Saints roster: talented, focused and possessing all the tools for a wildly successful season.

And what tools does the 6-foot-4, 256-pound Galette possess (other than a rare blend of size, speed and athleticism)?

Ask him, and he'll gladly tell you.

'I've added every move to my game as far as speed rush or bull rush, swim move or counter,' he said. 'I have every move but I can also be unorthodox and do things offensive lineman aren't going to expect.'

Galette, who has developed into one of the league's elite pass rushers, certainly looks the part. Still, Saints general manager Mickey Loomis and coach Sean Payton credit his mental approach and passion for the game more than his physical traits.

'The great thing about Junior is that he has matured as a person as well as player,' Loomis said. 'And I think our coaches would tell you that he's a very coachable player, he's a team guy, he practices hard everyday, plays very hard in the games and we get his best everyday and that's allowed him to improve into a really good player for us and a guy that I think is going to continue to improve and get more notoriety.'

And Galette has no problem with more attention. In fact, he craves it not because his social media musings, but rather his performance on the field.

'There's just a handful of guys that do what I did (last season),' he said. 'Now, I have to be that No. 1 guy. I've done well, but I feel like I left a lot on the field.'

Galette, who was undrafted out of Stillman College, carries a perpetual chip on his shoulder. He's motivated by not only overcoming hardship, of which he's had plenty, but also his failures -- even those that are contrived.

He said people shouldn't think he's being over-confident when he makes statements like, 'I'm gonna get five sacks in this game.' He says if he doesn't believe in himself, no one will.

'I know that sounds cliche, but it's just a fact,' he added. 'I want to hear myself saying 'I'm gonna do this.' And then back it up after I say it. And then I go in the game and get three sacks and I'm like 'it wasn't five sacks but I knew I had (it in me).

'It's my way of self-motivation, throwing in an outstanding, crazy number out there that people wouldn't expect, and then I go chase it and dig down and try to do something that no one has ever done.'

And what is that 'crazy' number this season?

'I know I can get 20 sacks,' he said convincingly. 'But it's not just about me and my numbers. I feel like this is a real crucial moment for us. We look good on paper, but we really just have to go out there and chase it. It's about getting that ring for New Orleans. It's about winning that championship.'

After last season's disappointing loss to eventual Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, Galette made some significant changes to his offseason regimen to better prepare him for the upcoming season. He accelerated his offseason timetable, beginning his workouts in mid-February instead of mid-March, as he had in the past.

'I was really taking care of my body (this offseason) more than I usually do, and I just feel great,' he said. 'I'm about 256 right now going into camp and this is the weight I want to be. Last year, I went into to camp about 262, so I'm ready and feel like I'm already in mid-season form.'

Galette wasn't the only player to redouble his efforts during the offseason. He said the Saints are a focused team whose players shoulder the responsibility of policing themselves, especially during the offseason.

But make no mistake about it. He said it starts at the top.

'Drew (Brees) obviously lives right off the field and is Hall of Fame caliber on the field,' Galette boasts. 'That just spins down to the 53rd guy or the 61st guy that's on the practice squad. We all just go with it. It's great to have that type of attitude and to have that type of leader on your team.

'We just follow him and everything is going to happen as we want it.'

Now in his fifth season, Galette has learned from Brees, evolving into one of the team's vocal leaders. However, it's a role that early in his career, he was hesitant to embrace.

'I feel like about two or three years ago guys came up to me when I was in the weight room just I was like 'I don't feel like doing anything (to motivate everyone).' I was not being as vocal and just be quiet,' he said, reflecting on his growth as a leader. 'Guys would be like, 'What's wrong?' And I would be like, 'Nothing's wrong, I'm just being real quiet. And guys would be like, 'You can't do that. You've gotta just be yourself so everybody can feed off that energy.'

'You know I'm hype,' Galette playfully reminded. 'I'm always getting everybody else hype and things like that, and I know the guys appreciate that and I love that.'

Galette knows he isn't going to sneak up teams this year and that he's likely to face more double teams as offenses better prepare for last season's fourth-ranked defense.

'We can't get full on ourselves and say we were third or fourth on defense. No, that didn't cut it, that didn't cut it for us last year,' he said. 'And honestly, we felt like defense cost the game last year because we didn't create any turnovers. The 2009 team, that's what they did was create turnovers. We were ranked low as far as total yards but they (2009) led the league in turnovers. We have to do that. We have to create turnovers and give our No. 1 offense more chances to get it done.'

Galette, admittedly, has been salivating at the prospects of playing alongside two of the Saints' offseason acquisitions.

'Obviously, (Jarius) Byrd has been a ball hawk since coming in the league,' Galette said. 'He's a turnover monster. Champ Bailey is a future Hall of Famer, so that alone, on paper, is ridiculous.

'So those two guys are guys that are going to put their hardhats on and go to work. So I mean, this team looks crazy. I'm just proud and happy that I'm gonna be part of it and be a key part of any success.'

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://www.wwltv.com/story/sports/nfl/saints/2014/09/05/14718692/