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Bearded Galette getting attention of fans, coaches

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METAIRIE, La. (AP)

Junior Galette has heard fans yelling ''fear the beard,'' when he has caused havoc in the New Orleans Saints' backfield during training camp.

Galette's prodigious facial hair has given the defensive end a vastly different look than when he arrived as a fresh-faced rookie in 2010. Saints coaches say they have also seen a difference in his play since he was signed as an undrafted free-agent out of Division II Stillman College.

''Junior's a guy that's established himself as a guy we're going to play with,'' defensive line coach Bill Johnson said after practice on Monday. ''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 1-2 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 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.

Galette spent most of his college career at Temple but was dismissed from school after his cousin, who was his guest at the time, was found with a couple of laptops stolen from dorm rooms.

Although Galette moved down to Division II his senior season, he said he never doubted that he would find his way into the NFL.

''I always envisioned that. If I was to tell you I didn't believe I'd be here, I'd be lying,'' Galette said. ''It's a humbling experience to come from Stillman and Temple and all the adverse situations I've been through.''

Galette credits some of his improvement to observing the way more established pros handle themselves off of the field.

''On the field it wasn't anything I did. I always play hard,'' Galette said. ''Off the field it's just living right as far as studying a little extra and doing more football stuff. When we get out of meetings, you go home and just get in your bunk instead of playing video games. You are just loving your job. I'm loving football more and more each day.''

Notes: Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt said RB Darren Sproles won't play in Friday night's preseason game against Jacksonville because of knee soreness. He could play if it were a regular-season game. Vitt also said WR Adrian Arrington had knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus and it isn't clear when he will be back. Also missing practice on Monday were DE Turk McBride (ankle), DT Tom Johnson (ankle), CB Jabari Greer (groin), and Nick Toon (left foot). McBride and Johnson are also expected to miss the game against the Jaguars, Vitt said. ... CB Patrick Robinson returned from a shoulder injury and intercepted Drew Brees' pass intended for Marques Colston in 11-on-11 drills. ... TE Jimmy Graham returned from a lower back strain for individual drills but sat out team drills.

Tagged: Patriots, Saints, Tom Brady, Will Smith, Junior Galette, Tom Johnson

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