- Mike Triplett, ESPN Staff Writer
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WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- Outside linebacker Junior Galette and defensive end Akiem Hicks were two of the most underrated driving forces behind the New Orleans Saints' breakout defense last year.
But neither one of them is complaining about flying under the radar -- for different reasons.
The exuberant Galette has never made any secret about his desire to crack the Pro Bowl, pop up on lists like the NFL Network’s top 100 or even amp up his rating on the Madden video game.
Galette said when he heard that fellow Saints pass rusher Cameron Jordan said his goal was to get one sack per game this year, Galette’s goal became to get two sacks per game.
“It might sound unrealistic, but it pushes me,” Galette said. “If I don’t get two a game, I might end up getting one a game. We just keep pushing each other. That’s what I do. I just set almost unrealistic goals and just land halfway and it’s pretty dominant.”
However, Galette admitted Saturday that it can only help him and Jordan if anyone is still underestimating them after they became the only duo in the NFL with 12 sacks apiece last season.
“If (people aren’t talking about us), then it’s better for us. You’re coming to surprise,” Galette said, though he quickly added: “If they don’t know now, then they will know next year.”
Hicks, meanwhile, was more soft-spoken when asked about his perception and reputation on Saturday.
I am one of many analysts who have been touting Hicks as this year’s Galette-like breakout candidate on New Orleans’ roster. But Hicks said he can’t let himself worry about such lofty praise or expectations.
“That’s just the way it goes. They pick a guy out that they think is going to do good. But as a player, you can’t focus on that because you are never as good as they say you are and you are never as bad as they say you are,” said Hicks, who added that his No. 1 focus heading into his third season is to improve his consistency.
However, when asked how he feels about being described as “underrated,” Hicks said, “It is better than being overrated, right?”
“I’m just ready to work hard,” Hicks said. “That’s just my personality. I just want to do well. I just want to be consistent. I just want to work hard. And I want my teammates to respect me for it.”