Bradley Handwerger / WWLTV.com Sports Reporter
METAIRIE, La. Before Junior Galette even earned a snap for the Saints during preseason game, let alone a regular season game, New Orleans' rabid fan base had jumped on his bandwagon, taking the express train wherever he was heading.
He repaid his followers by earning his way onto the 53-man roster as an undrafted rookie free agent. But he barely played, seeing action in only four games and recording only two tackles.
A year later, however, the Galette Express is back and this time, it's delivering on the promise those fans so dearly wanted.
Heading into the Saints' (1-1) Sunday game against Houston (2-0), Galette has played more than a passing role in New Orleans' opening two games of the season. And while it was partly due to Will Smith being suspended for the opening two games, it was also partly due to Galette's work on the practice field.
'He's someone who's focused in on his job and he's worked hard to get the snaps that he's getting right now within our system,' Saints coach Sean Payton said.
The second-year player out of Stillman has 21/2 sacks. Though early in the season, that's tied for fifth in the NFL.
From his first day with the Saints until now, Galette said he has matured immensely in his understanding of the NFL game, yet another reason he has earned plays.
'I was a little bit raw when I came here as far as from a defense, a team perspective but individually as a player, I'm up there,' Galette said. 'I always had that confidence in myself. But as far as a maturity and understanding that it's a team concept, that you can't always do your thing all the time, it's night and day.'
Galette wouldn't divulge individual goals, saying that would take away from the team concept, but he said his most basic one is to help the team get back to the Super Bowl.
For now, that idea is keeping him in the rotation.
'We've seen his growth fundamentally and certainly we've seen his growth from a maturity standpoint and he's handling it well,' Payton said.