ARLINGTON, Texas — To say that the last two seasons for sixth-year wide receiver Michael Gallup have been frustrating would be an understatement.
After exceeding expectations through his first three years in a Dallas uniform, Gallup suffered a strained calf in 2021 that sidelined him for seven games before tearing his ACL later that season — keeping him inactive throughout the entire offseason into week four of the 2022 season.
As he reflects on the obstacles he's had to overcome over the last year-and-a-half, the former 1,000-yard receiver has made massive strides with how he feels in the present day going into the 2023 season.
"Last year at this time I couldn't walk," Gallup said. "We're moving though. I got a couple days under my belt. I was out there catching balls with Dak. I feel springy again, I feel good. It's way different."
As the season went on last year, Gallup never felt truly comfortable with his knee and he marks it as a big reason why his fifth season was his least productive since entering the NFL.
"You go out there, you want to play like you always play," Gallup said. "You know how you're supposed to play. That didn't happen for me last year. I was thinking too much. My knee was feeling sore and it was just different."
The mental aspect of his injury created a block for Gallup – even after he was cleared to play – that was tough for him to accept as the year went on.
"I was thinking it, but I didn't want to say it," he said about letting negative thoughts in. "If you say it, you believe it. I didn't really want to say it. I had those thoughts but you gotta block them out."
However, Gallup's mindset going into this summer is much different than it has been in the past. With Brandin Cooks' knowledge of taking care of the body in the wide receiver room combined with an increased emphasis from Gallup himself on preventing injury, the Colorado State product feels confident that he has what it takes physically to get back to his regular self and potentially even more in 2023.
"I never had a big injury like that, it was different," he said. "I had to work a little bit harder. I had to do some things that I've never had to do. I could normally just walk out on the field and play and I couldn't do that. I gotta warm my body now. But it was good, though. That's part of growing pains."
The confidence radiating from Gallup feels contagious as there's a different sense of faith and belief from him that he can get back to where he wants to be to help the offense prosper in 2023.
"I'm very confident I'll feel like that guy again," he said. "Very confident. It just feels different. It's kind of in the air. I smile every time I walk in that facility."