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Losing Junior Galette devastating blow to Redskins' plans

ASHBURN, Va. -- Linebacker Junior Galette ached for the chance to get on the field. The Washington Redskins ached for the chance to see him once he did.

It’s not going to happen, not with Galette lost for the season with a ruptured Achilles. Which would be a devastating blow for the Redskins. There's a reason coach Jay Gruden looked like someone told him his dog had just died for part of Wednesday afternoon.

Galette had off-field issues that got him cut in New Orleans and might lead to a suspension from the NFL. This isn’t about whether or not he’s a good guy, a bad guy or whether he’s been reformed or whatever. For the Redskins and Galette, this is just about football. When he arrived in Washington in August on a one-year deal, he did so knowing the opportunity he was given -- and what he needed to do with this chance.

But it helped Galette that the players embraced him and it was clear he hugged them right back. In practices after he joined them, Galette would show younger pass-rushers various techniques or he would jump on players who had just made a great play. He was exuberant, energetic -- and that was before he started practicing.

"These guys embrace me and take me in," Galette said two weeks ago. "It’s a lot easier when guys are pulling for you and not taking jabs at you and being negative about it. You’re around a second family."

Once he started practicing, the on-field impact was evident. For all the talk of this being a risky signing, the Redskins always knew they could cut him without any penalty. When you saw him on the field, it was clear why they wanted him and why they would assume any sort of a risk.

Galette pounced off the edge with a burst no one else on the Redskins could match. Ryan Kerrigan is a good pass-rusher, but he wins in ways other than just flat-out speed. The Redskins' other young pass-rushers, Trent Murphy and Preston Smith, are not explosive. But Galette was -- and he was the only one who could routinely challenge left tackle Trent Williams in practice.

He would bend the edge with a rush that Williams would eventually stop because of his athleticism and long arms. But half the time those were rushes other tackles would not slow. Also, Galette had a knack for turning the edge, getting lower than most, yet not losing any speed. Other times, Galette would start upfield, see Williams get off-balance, and then cut back inside.

This is how the Redskins were going to compete this season, with a strong run game and a defense that could stop the run and apply pressure on third downs. They won’t be carried by the quarterback and they know it, which is why they worked hard to strengthen other areas that would offset -- they hoped -- some of the offensive issues.

Before Galette arrived, the Redskins still felt they had improved their defense, especially along the line. It can still be better than last season's group. They know they can get an interior push from players such as Stephen Paea and Jason Hatcher among others. But what they really needed was another force on the edge. They are pocket-collapsers, and an edge rusher would finish off the play -- or push a quarterback up the middle to those rushers. One Redskins interior player said Galette was going to help him get 10 sacks.

Murphy has had a good summer, but there is no proof yet that he will be a solid pass-rusher. Smith has progressed, but his success has been primarily against backups.

So Galette mattered.

Here’s what Barry said about Galette recently, "He’s an absolute ball of energy. He’s been phenomenal since he’s been here, nothing but positive. He’s done nothing but work his ever-living butt off. It’s amazing when the ball is snapped the juice he has coming off the ball. That’s every snap. It’s every fricking play."

The Redskins needed that juice. Now they must squeeze it out of someone else.