Defensive end Junior Galette is thrilled to be getting a chance to play with the New Orleans Saints
A year ago, New Orleans Saints defensive end Junior Galette didn't have a place to play. He had been kicked off the Temple football team for a series of what he called "boneheaded mistakes, " including personality clashes with coaches and an incident in which his cousin was arrested for stealing laptop computers from the dorm while visiting Galette on campus.
Michael DeMocker/The Times-Picayune
Saints defensive end Junior Galette (67) works against guard Brandon Carter (61) during Saints Camp at the team's training facility in Metairie on Thursday.
Galette said he was "blessed" to get a second chance to play at Division II Stillman College last season. And now that he's getting a shot to crack the Saints' roster as an undrafted free agent, he can barely contain his excitement.
"This is the dream. This is like a one-in-a-million shot, " said Galette, who is threatening to take the nickname "Jawbone" away from fellow Saints reclamation project Anthony Hargrove. "Man, I'm with the world champions, you understand? The first day I got here, I was like, 'Did I just break the huddle with Drew Brees? I was just playing with him in Madden (video game)."
Galette's enthusiasm can be seen -- and heard -- on the practice field. He's a dynamic athlete who plays at a high speed, and he has turned heads by making his way into the backfield to disrupt passers or blow up run plays on a number of occasions. His emotional reactions are evident after good plays and mistakes.
"It's just the opportunity of a lifetime, and I'm living every day like it's my last day, " Galette said. "That's why I'm out here every day, jumping around and spirited, and guys are like, 'What's wrong with him? It's 110 degrees out here.' And I'm just like, 'Man, you guys don't even know what I just went through to get here.'
"From where I came from, it was a long road, and the mind-set I have is that I refuse to lose. I wake up every morning and look in the mirror and say, 'I will not lose.'"
Defensive line coach Bill Johnson said Galette's character hasn't been a problem, though he described him as "raw, raw, raw, raw" and said he needs to keep maturing on and off the field.
"You're dealing with a lot of issues here to fit into this level of football. And we've gone through some attitude adjustments, just because he didn't know how to be around a program like this, " Johnson said. "But I've got no problems dealing with him. He has come in and he's really actively trying to get something done. ... He's definitely someone interesting to watch."
Galette had 16 sacks and three forced fumbles in 33 games at Temple. Then at Stillman, he had 9 1/2 sacks and was a second-team All-American.
Galette said he has always worked hard, but he acted like he was special once he became a successful player, rather than leading by example.
"I was 19, 20 years old, and I wasn't mature and ready for being that captain and being here and getting to the meetings 30 minutes early. I saw it a whole 'nother way. And now I'm just like, 'Man, what was I doing?'" said Galette, who said he was "raised in a great family" and felt like he failed them as well as himself.
"I'm just real thankful, and I was blessed that I got to learn from those mistakes when I was young and not when I got my feet wet in the NFL and it would hurt me so much more, " said Galette. "You know, I'm at home with no school to go to, and I'm praying every day, asking, 'Lord, man, why is this going on with me? I will change my behavior and I will promise to change my actions.' And that's just the maturity phase I had to go through."
Galette has gravitated toward Hargrove, the ultimate example of how a player can overcome a troubled past. Hargrove served a one-year suspension after a series of legal troubles and a battle with drug addiction before he joined the Saints and won a Super Bowl.
Hargrove has happily taken Galette under his wing.
"If I can help him and help keep him in the league and not make the mistakes I made, I've done my job, " said Hargrove, whose early advice to Galette has been to learn how to bottle up his energy and unleash it at the right times on the field.
"Guys like us are misunderstood, " Hargrove said. "And they may look at us and say that we're a little off because we love life so much. And I don't think there's nothing wrong with loving life and being happy all the time and being energetic, because that's how we're made. And if that's weird and crazy, then call us crazy and insane."
SHOCKEY RETURNS: Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey returned to action Thursday after missing the past seven practices while dealing with knee soreness. He fully participated, making one big catch, followed immediately by a drop during a two-minute drill. He wasn't available for comment after practice.
"He's doing well, " Saints Coach Sean Payton said. "A lot of it is just making sure we monitor any soreness. But I was encouraged with how he worked today."
HARTLEY'S 60-YARDER: Saints kicker Garrett Hartley drew some cheers from teammates and coaches when he drilled a 60-yard field goal during practice. But after practice, he was thinking more about the 37-yarder and 41-yarder that he missed wide right.
"Those (long ones) are crowd pleasing, but it's more important to be consistent, " said Hartley, who estimates that he has made about 90 percent of his field-goal attempts during practice.
The funny thing about the 60-yard attempt, Hartley said, is that the Saints were actually planning on him missing it short so they could practice their coverage in the situation where a defender tries to return the ball out of the end zone, known as "the Baltimore drill, " because former Ravens cornerback Chris McAlister once returned a missed field-goal attempt for a 107-yard touchdown on Monday Night Football.
"Coach (Greg McMahon) told me, 'You screwed up my drill, '" said Hartley, who said the attempt was supposed to be from 58 yards, but he told McMahon, "If you even want to give that returner a shot, then we'd better push it back a couple yards."
SAINTS SIGN BRADLEY: The team signed free-gent receiver Mark Bradley late Thursday after bringing him in for a workout. He is a long shot to make the roster, but there's something the team likes about the 6-foot-1, 201-pounder who spent the past five seasons in Chicago, Kansas City and Tampa Bay. A former second-round pick out of Oklahoma, Bradley has 92 catches in his career for 1,293 yards and nine touchdowns. He was released by the Buccaneers in June.
SCRIMMAGE CHANGE: The Black and Gold scrimmage has been moved up to 11 a.m. Saturday. It will still be open to the public, weather-permitting.
OFFICIALS VISITING: A team of NFL officials arrived Thursday to meet with the Saints about rule changes and points of emphasis. They'll be in town for three days to officiate practices, including Saturday's scrimmage.
Re: Defensive end Junior Galette is thrilled to be getting a chance to play with the New Orleans Saints
I really wish the kid luck & I thin AH will be a good roe model. We can ALWAYS use a young energetic kid who likes to hit hard (Brett the Diva do you see this?)
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