OXNARD, California — Michael Gallup is all smiles nowadays, and he's giving off a certain type of air of confidence that was mostly absent following his return to action in October 2022, after having suffered a season-ending torn ACL less than 10 months prior. As training camp fires up for the Dallas Cowboys in 2023, Gallup says he's finally overcome all mental hurdles.
In other words, while his knee was physically fine, it was his apprehension that held him back; but no more.
"Mentally, it's up there to 100%," he said on Monday as the Cowboys filed out of their buses following their arrival to Oxnard. "Last year, the mentals obviously weren't there. I knew my leg was good, I knew I was straight, but I still had to get over that hump. So definitely, this offseason, and coming out here to  training camp and being able to go Day 1 — this'll be good."
As referenced, the former 1,000-yard receiver wasn't available to begin camp in 2022, starting out on the team's physically unable to perform list (PUP) before being relegated there to begin the season, which cost him the first four games.
"You know you're healthy, everything's good, it's just mental now," Gallup said after his return last season. "You've got to make sure you feel like your old self, so getting to that, that's the hardest part."
It sounds as if that's all behind him now which, combined with the emergence of CeeDee Lamb as the definitive WR1 and the addition of Brandin Cooks via trade this offseason, makes for a seriously spicy bowl of gumbo from which quarterback Dak Prescott can heap spoonfuls of offense from.
And Gallup is champing at the bit to go full speed in camp.
"You finally get to get back in pads and get a flow going," he said. "… You always want to come in here [with high expectations]. Nobody ever wants to come in here low."
The expectations are for the offense to do their best in matching serve with their lights-out defensive counterparts, and that will require the confidence that was missing in Gallup last season but he admits is now back — in spades — for what will be his sixth NFL season.
"I've already done that," said Gallup. "I've done that. That's what we had OTAs and stuff for. I've definitely rebuilt it."
All of this has head coach Mike McCarthy working up a lather.
"I think Michael's very important," said McCarthy in late May, following the conclusion of OTAs. "I think the biggest thing for Michael, and he wants it too, he just wants to have a healthy season. He looks good. This is really the first time, in my time here, that he's had a full offseason program.
"He's definitely very important."
So much so that the Cowboys are designing packages that put Gallup's versatility on display.
"… Just conversations we've had, particularly with Brian Schottenheimer, giving him some more opportunities inside," McCarthy added. "Expanding his responsibility [route tree] and checklist, he's been pretty much in school here at X receiver but we feel like he can do more."
For Prescott's part, it's about keeping his belief in a receiver that's shown him, and the Cowboys, that he can be a gamebreaker for the team.
"The guy was coming off of an injury last year, everybody understands that," said Prescott in OTAs. "And for him to get in this offseason and get his body right, and starting to come back into who Michael Gallup is and starting to feel himself. I think you saw that right there — doing it on a couple of plays consecutively. That's a guy I've got a lot of trust in."
More importantly, though, is the fact Gallup has trust in himself again.