ASHBURN, Va., -- The sight they needed to see, or at least hoped they would, involved Junior Galette taking part in the spring workouts. It's not what Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden expected. Not with Galette coming off his second consecutive missed season because of an Achilles tear.
But Gruden and the Redskins know if Galette can somehow recover his game, he'd provide much-welcomed pass-rushing depth. And then some.
"He knows he's got a little ways to go," Gruden said, "but you can still see that he's got the quick twitch, which you really need off the edge."
The Redskins don't have anyone who can get low and turn the corner as well as Galette. Ryan Kerrigan has been their best pass-rusher and can win off the edge, but Galette offered the Redskins more burst.
"He can bend, and now as far as stamina goes, he’s going to continue to work to get in shape," Gruden said. "But knowing Junior, the way he works and the way he trains and prepares, he'll get himself into shape. The big thing is feeling confident in those Achilles, getting that burst back, which it looks like he's got a lot of it back. It's just a matter of maintaining that burst for a long period of time."
The Redskins, though, can bring Galette along slowly if needed -- now and during the season. During the organized team activity sessions last week, they still used Preston Smith as the starter. They also have second-round pick Ryan Anderson. And, after his four-game suspension to open the season, they'll have Trent Murphy. They have the ability to limit Galette's role, thereby, perhaps, maximizing his output by keeping him fresh.
But the questions don't end at outside linebacker, where only Kerrigan offers consistent productivity.
On the inside, Mason Foster and Zach Brown will compete for the starting job opposite Will Compton. During the OTA practice open to the media last week, Foster and Brown took reps with the starters though Foster appeared to be with the starters more and did so first. However, in at least some nickel situations Foster and Brown were on the field and Compton was not.
The real point is that no matter who starts, all three will have a role. There's a chance if Brown beats out Foster that the latter could supplant Compton. Foster can handle the signal-calling as well, but for now Compton has the clear advantage. Brown was a free-agent signing, but for only one season. He was not a hot commodity despite coming off his best season in Buffalo. Still, he'll help this defense: Whatever Brown's role becomes, he offers speed and athleticism that they'll use.
But a top storyline moving forward for Washington will be Galette's progress. Gruden should be pleased now by what he sees; but after being teased the past two summers by Galette's talent, he'll need to see it once the season begins. It's hard to do what Galette is attempting; if he succeeds it'll provide a big boost to a defense in need of one.