FRISCO, Texas – There will always be something you can improve.
That has always applied to every player on Jason Garrett’s Cowboys rosters. Coming off the best game of his career in Sunday’s season opener, it’s no different for Michael Gallup.
If he didn’t know that before his seven-catch, 158-yard effort against the Giants, he does now – his coaches made sure of it..
“There’s always something you can work on – the coaches definitely point that out,” Gallup said on Monday. “You definitely shouldn’t be cocky, it’s only Game 1.”
Case in point: Gallup made arguably the best play of his career on Sunday night. Facing a 3rd-and-8 in the third quarter, he caught a post route in stride and raced 62 yards, cutting his way back and plowing through the New York defense to the Giants’ 26-yard line.
As big of a play as it was, it could’ve been better.
“I didn’t break down as much as I should have,” Gallup said. “I kind of rolled into my route – I didn’t top it and then come flat, I kind of rolled into it.”
The Cowboys’ coaches probably don’t think this way, but if that’s the biggest critique of Gallup’s first game of the season, then there’s plenty to be excited about.
As a rookie, it took him seven weeks – the Oct. 21 trip to play Washington, as a matter of fact – to eclipse his yardage total from Sunday night.
“Shoot, I don’t think I even had a catch last year in the season opener,” Gallup said. “(I’ve come) definitely a long way, going out there and playing comfortable, playing free and having fun.”
Gallup’s memory isn’t perfect, but it’s close. In the Week 1 loss to Carolina last year, he caught just one ball for nine yards. He followed that up with one catch for five yards the next week against the Giants.
Even after he broke out with 81 yards and a touchdown at FedEx Field, Gallup acknowledged rookie growing pains.
“It was kind of up and down for me last year,” he said. “There were some games where I felt like I had the bag and some games where I felt like I was regressing.”
It’s a small sample size, but it sure looks like it’s clicking for him on a different level this year. Gallup’s 158 yards were obviously – easily – a career high. But even more encouraging than the yardage total was the catch total.
Seven receptions is also a career high, and he managed that on just seven targets. Considering how many missed connections there were between Gallup and Dak Prescott last season, that is a sign of some serious progress.
“That’s big, to get a jump on it right now,” Gallup said. “Because I know last year it took us a whole long time to get that connection down. So getting on it in the first game like that, that just helps us going toward the end of the season.”
Confidence is key, and Gallup seems to be brimming with it. There will always be room for improvement, but he certainly looks like a guy who has made a big leap forward from his rookie year.
“I know in certain games I flashed it, but this year I’m pretty sure I can bring it out every game,” he said.