Rams will work out veteran linebacker Junior Galette despite troubling history
Multiple offseason moves provided Wade Phillips with important pieces for a remade Rams defense. But the shopping continues.
Free-agent outside linebacker Junior Galette, who played for Rams defensive line coach Bill Johnson in New Orleans and worked with linebackers coach Joe Barry in Washington, will work out for the Rams on Monday.
There is a “good possibility” the Rams will sign Galette if the workout and a physical go well, coach Sean McVay said Sunday.
Galette, 30, has 34.5 sacks despite sitting out the 2015 and 2016 seasons because of Achilles injuries. He also has a history of off-the-field incidents.
“He’s a guy that’s had a lot of rush production over the course of his career,” McVay said during a teleconference with reporters, adding, “With some of the history that a lot our coaches have with the player, and just him being out there and being available and potentially being able to add to our rush, that was something that was intriguing.”
In a defense that could feature linemen Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh and Michael Brockers, and a secondary that includes cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters and safeties Lamarcus Joyner and John Johnson, the Rams’ linebackers corps is regarded as a question mark.
Veteran Mark Barron is established but third-year pro Cory Littleton is a full-time starter for the first time. Outside linebacker Samson Ebukam, a second-year pro, was the only defensive starter to play in the first two preseason games, a decision McVay said was made so Ebukam could gain experience. Matt Longacre, a career backup, is projected as a possible starter at the other linebacker spot, but has been slowed by injuries.
Galette began his NFL career in 2010 as an undrafted free agent with the Saints. In 2013, he recorded 12 sacks and 29 tackles for losses. The next season he had 10 sacks, 33 tackles for losses and two safeties.
The Saints signed him to a $41.5-million extension in September 2014, but released him during the summer in 2015, reportedly because of character issues that stemmed from locker-room and off-the-field incidents.
Galette signed with Washington, where McVay was offensive coordinator, but he suffered a left Achilles injury before the 2015 season. He suffered a tear in his other Achilles before the 2016 season.
Last season Galette played as a reserve for the Redskins and had three sacks in 16 games.
Among Galette’s off-the-field incidents are a January 2015 arrest in Louisiana for misdemeanor domestic abuse. The charge was later dropped but the NFL suspended Galette for two games.
Playing time for starters?
Nothing is finalized, McVay stressed, but he is leaning toward playing starters, including quarterback Jared Goff and running back Todd Gurley, in Saturday’s preseason game against Houston at the Coliseum.
Nearly all starters were held out in a loss at Baltimore and a victory over Oakland.
“In a perfect world, you want to be able to get these guys some work, get them out there going through the routine of being able to get a few snaps,” McVay said.
Several starters said they wanted to play in the third preseason game to acclimate to game conditions before the start of the season.
“Just to feel the speed, the atmosphere, the crowd and the whole thing,” John Johnson said.
The Rams originally projected that rookie linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo would begin practicing this week. But his recovery from foot surgery is progressing slower than expected. “We thought we’d be a little bit further along at this point,” McVay said. “How that affects his status with us is kind of to be determined, just because we’ve still got a couple weeks.” … Rookie linebacker Travin Howard has been sidelined because of an ankle injury but could return to practice this week. … Rookie defensive lineman John Franklin-Myers played well against the Raiders in his preseason debut, McVay said. “We anticipate John being a very important part of our defense,” McVay said.
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