New Orleans Saints defensive end Junior Galette: Fear The Beard

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Johnson went on to say: “He’s a productive player. He affects the rush, gets his hands on balls, makes tackles, pressures the quarterback, gets him off his spot. That’s the first thing you look for.”

Galette began to receive regular playing time as a reserve in 2011 and wound up third on the team with 4.5 sacks, and second in quarterback hits with 11. While Galette is in line to open the season primarily as a third-down pass rusher and a contributor on special teams, the Saints will need all the depth they can get.

Especially at defensive end if Will Smith’s four-game suspension in connection with the NFL’s bounty probe is not overturned in federal court. “We don’t know what’s going to happen,” Galette said. “They got me bringing it starting on third down right now, so I’m embracing that role.”

Galette’s performance cannot be appreciated simply by looking at statistics, Johnson said. He pointed to Galette’s role in Smith’s sack and strip of Tom Brady in last week’s preseason game at New England. Galette got into the backfield first, forcing Brady to move right, where Smith took the quarterback down and jarred the ball loose. Linebacker Curtis Lofton recovered the fumble.

“We call that hidden production because Galette got Brady off the spot, and that’s the way the pass rush works,” Johnson said. “One guy gets the quarterback off his spot and the other guy goes and gets him, so that was a very productive play.”

The 6-foot-2, 258-pound Galette looks the part of a defensive end, with a stout but lean frame, quick feet and quick hands. He blocked a punt as a rookie during a preseason game, and last week hit the arm of Patriots backup quarterback Ryan Mallett as he tried to throw.

“He has some good natural attributes that he’s got to keep refining fundamentally, but they serve him well as a football player,” Johnson said.