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Gallup Nearing 2022 Debut: 'It's Just Mental Now'


FRISCO, Texas — The decision on whether or not to allow Michael Gallup to make his 2022 debut for the Dallas Cowboys in their Week 3 matchup with the New York Giants went to the wire on Monday, but ultimately it was the former 1,000-yard receiver himself who opted to allow for another week of practice before suiting back up for the first time since suffering a torn ACL in 2021.

It wasn't because of any sort of physical setback, because there hasn't been one.

Instead, it was Gallup employing a valuable sense of self-discipline and maturity in making sure that he's not risking a stint on injured reserve by allowing the competitor in him to overpower his logic - the Cowboys going on to defeat the Giants with the help of another great game from Noah Brown, a jaw-dropping touchdown grab by CeeDee Lamb and others who stepped up to help Cooper Rush finish the job at MetLife Stadium.

"We've got a lot of games left to play, and I'm trying to be out there the whole time," Gallup said on Wednesday, as the Cowboys begin readying themselves for a quick turnaround against the visiting Washington Commanders "… I saw [the Chris Godwin injury against Dallas], and that's tough. It makes you think a little differently about your recovery.

"I'm just trying to avoid that, for sure."

Godwin, like Gallup, tore an ACL last season and was questionable leading into the regular season opener against the Cowboys. He'd go on to play and make an impact initially before leaving with a hamstring injury after playing in just 19 offensive snaps, and he's not suited up since.

It could be argued that Godwin's hamstring injury is what's often labeled an "overcompensatory" injury, in that when one area of the body isn't quite healthy the surrounding muscle groups and support system (e.g., tendons, ligaments) attempt to overcompensate for the deficiency. This sports medicine phenomenon can be wholly mental at times - when players are again healthy after a major injury but alter how they'd normally run, reach, stop, change direction, etc. out of fear of re-injury.

As the saying goes: you often get injured when you're trying to avoid re-injury.

This is precisely what Gallup is working to avoid.

"No [physical] limitations, just gotta feel it out," he explained, putting to bed any concerns about his surgically-repaired knee. "It's been real tough [not being out there], I'm not gonna lie. I don't even know what to say. I wanna get out there so bad but, obviously, it's a process.

"I'm just biding my time so that I'm good when I get back out there, so I can help my team."

Will that be on Sunday afternoon against the Commanders, though?

"We hope so," Gallup said. "It's been a while. [Looking to] have another great week [in practice]. I felt good, obviously, throughout the week but there were a few things I needed to touch up on - feel a little bit more.

"It was my decision."

The 26-year-old will instantly inject a barrel of gunpowder into the Cowboys passing attack, a unit that's definitely struggled at times over the first three games while also making just enough big plays to mostly negate the errors (see vs. NYG as one example).

A game-changer down the field who has made a career delivering explosive plays for the Cowboys, Gallup has already gotten back to being "Gallup-esque" in practice - per head coach Mike McCarthy - and is very close to bringing it to the regular season for possibly Rush and, eventually, Dak Prescott.

"This is the hardest part - it's really just mental now," noted Gallup. "You know you're healthy and everything's good, it's just mental now. You've gotta make sure you feel like you're old self.

"Getting to that is the hardest part. … I just needed a couple more reps. I've only been in pads twice. Everybody else had a whole training camp and everything like that, and I just needed to feel a couple more things out.

"That's it."

And, seeing as inquiring minds would love to know, what exactly is an example of one of the "Gallup-esque" plays McCarthy was referring to in his press conference on Tuesday?

"Big fade, big fade," he explained, wearing a bright, ear-to-ear smile. "Go up in the air, snag it, do what you're supposed to do and get the toes down - that's exactly what it was."

How'd that feel, by the way?

"M.G. is back," he said. "M.G. is definitely back. That's exactly how it felt."

Gallup's return: loading …

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