The Dallas Cowboys didn't just lose a game in Week 1 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers they lost Wide Receiver Michael Gallup who suffered a calf strain. Gallup hasn't played since that time, however, he was designated to return from injured reserve on Monday which kick-started his 21-day practice window. He can be added to the active roster at any point during that time or be put back on IR if he isn't.
Dak Prescott and the Cowboys' passing game have chugged along fine without Gallup due to the plethora of talented pass catchers they have. Fellow receivers Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb, as well as Tight End Dalton Schultz, are all on pace for 1,000-yard seasons. Also, Cedrick Wilson has shown flashes of his ability and has scored two touchdowns as the Cowboys' No. 3 option in Gallup's absence. Make no mistake about it though, the return of Gallup opens up an already lethal Cowboys passing attack.
Gallup working on the outside with Cooper allows Lamb to dominate in the slot much like he did last season as a rookie when he led the NFL with 69 receptions for 877 yards from that area. It also gives Cooper more one-on-one opportunities because of the attention that defenses have to pay to Gallup.
The former third-round pick from 2018 is the Cowboys' primary deep ball threat. His potential to take the top off of any defense from the outside allows Cooper and Lamb to be effective when running underneath and intermediate passing routes. However, Gallup showed another dimension to his tool bag over the summer.
Gallup began taking snaps from the slot during training camp. The ability to move Gallup around makes it difficult for defenses to pinpoint how they want to defend the Cowboys' aerial assault, giving Cooper and Lamb chances to attack downfield from the X and Y positions if he's lined up inside. Also, it gives the aforementioned Schultz and Blake Jarwin more chances to produce on seam routes down the middle of the field.
“Everybody's labeled me as just a deep ball threat, but I know I can do a whole lot more,” Gallup said back in August. “So me being able to come on the inside and run some routes from there, short, intermediate game, definitely can show that I'm more versatile than a lot of folks might think.”
Although the Cowboys have two No. 1 options essentially with Cooper and Lamb, Gallup has shown he can still be productive playing alongside them. In 2019, when Cooper racked up 1,189 yards and eight touchdowns, both career highs, Gallup was no slouch either. He had his best NFL campaign with 66 receptions for 1,107 yards and six touchdowns which doubled his production from his rookie campaign. Last season, while Cooper produced his fifth 1,000-yard season in six years and Lamb nearly reached 1,000 yards (935) himself, Gallup amassed 843 yards and five touchdowns despite playing with four different quarterbacks.
It remains to be seen if Gallup will be ready to return this Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings. However, he will be back very soon and it will make the passing game in Dallas a nightmare to defend as if it isn't already.