FRISCO, Texas – If there was any doubt about Michael Gallup's impact, it could be felt at his locker.
Gallup practiced for the first time in three weeks on Wednesday, and everyone wanted to know how it went – so much that he struggled to find his way to his locker amid a sea of cameras and reporters.
"I did a couple reps, not a whole lot – but it was good to be back out there," he said.
It's got to be exciting news for the Cowboys, not to mention the people who follow them. Gallup was off to an incredible start in his second season, catching 13 passes for 226 yards in the first two weeks before his knee injury.
To be fair, it's only two weeks, but that average of 113 yards per game puts him on pace with Keenan Allen, who is currently the NFL's receiving leader.
"He's a very big piece of our offense. He's a big piece of what we try to do," said Randall Cobb. "He's a big-time playmaker. He stretches the field really well and opens up things for everybody."
None of this is to say he's out of the woods. It was just 15 days ago that Gallup had surgery on his knee, and he was still dealing with some swelling and stiffness last week. For that matter, he said he figures he'll be dealing with side effects for the foreseeable future, even as he returns to action.
"It's still going to swell. It's going to swell for a while, but not enough to keep me from starting to play," he said. "The doctor said my knee is fine. I can't really do nothing to it, it's just I've got to get it through my head that I can do it."
Regardless, Gallup's presence can only help a Cowboys passing game that suffered its first true setback last weekend in New Orleans. Dak Prescott and his receivers looked fairly toothless for most of the night, as most of the big passing plays went to the tight ends, while Prescott finished with just 223 yards on the night.
Even if he's hobbled by injury, his teammates know he can help make a difference.
"We need him out there, and he actually looked good," said Amari Cooper. "He looks like before he got injured. He's a very big piece to our offense, and we need him out there."
Thursday will be the big test. After a light workout on Tuesday and a practice on Wednesday, it will be telling to see how his knee responds. But the early indication is that Gallup is on track to be back, sooner rather than later.