FRISCO, Texas – By most standards, Michael Gallup had a productive rookie season for the Cowboys in 2018.
He caught 33 balls with 10 of them accounting for at least 20 yards. Not bad for a third-round pick who found his way into the starting lineup by the end of the season.
But give an inch here or a couple of yards there, and Gallup could've had a huge impact on the season. On nearly 10 occasions, Gallup and Dak Prescott just missed on deep balls down the field, creating a "what could've been" scenario for the young receiver as he heads into his second season.
"Yeah, we were pretty close a few times," Gallup said. "But that's what we're doing right now. That's what this time is for – get out there and work on getting those deep balls (complete) and making big plays."
So far so good?
"Oh, yeah. If you've been watching us out there in the OTAs and minicamp, we've gotten much better. I think we've got a better feel for each other and where I'm going to be and everything. I'm pretty excited about that part."
Now Gallup wasn't exactly empty-handed in the big-play department last year. He had a 49-yard touchdown catch against the Redskins on a deep ball from Prescott, along with a 40-yarder against the Saints and one for 37 yards vs. Detroit.
And in the playoff loss to the Rams, Gallup was the Cowboys' most productive receiver, hauling in 119 receiving yards, including a 44-yard deep ball that set up a touchdown.
"I think it was a pretty good start," Gallup said of last year. "I'm just trying to clean up a few things and get better every day. And (the deep ball) is just part of it. I'm focusing on running routes, catching the ball better, just everything that goes into playing the position."
Gallup won't be asked to be the lead receiver, a role that will be occupied by Amari Cooper. But the Cowboys' No. 1 wideout certainly likes what he sees on the other side of the formation.
"Oh, of course. You know they say the biggest leap you'll make in your NFL career is between Year 1 and 2," Cooper said. "So I definitely see some improvements. He's tuning a lot of things up. He's becoming more of a detail guy in his approach to the game of football."
If Gallup can take that leap, it would give Prescott and the offense just one more weapon to count on in what is shaping up to be a well-rounded attack. Along with Cooper, the Cowboys feature the NFL's rushing leader in Ezekiel Elliott and now Jason Witten has returned to the offense. Randall Cobb joins the group as a veteran pass-catcher and watch out for gadget-like players such as Tavon Austin and Tony Pollard – all of whom will be playing behind one of the NFL's best offensive lines that could even be better if Travis Frederick returns to form.
All of that has Gallup excited about where he fits into the mix.
"I'm just trying to find my role," Gallup said. "I think I can be a big contributor. Last year, I was able to have some games like that. I just want to be consistent every week and try to help us win and hopefully make some big plays."
Big plays that were only a few inches away from happening last year.