If this were a comic-book movie, the group of superheroes have just gotten an unexpectedly thorough and embarrassing beatdown at the hands of a surprisingly robust bunch of bad guys. It happened right on the city streets with everyone watching, and now they’re limping and bloody in their tattered spandex suits, and they’re nursing their wounds amid the rubble as the stunned crowd looks on to see how they’ll rally for the next attack, due in very short order.
This would be the moment- as the audience starts to question the faith they had put into these suddenly-fallible figures, just when things look bleakest- that the camera pans. And there, emerging from the background as the music swells, is the hero that had been separated from the group earlier in the film. In fact, he’d almost been forgotten about. But now he’s back and ready for battle and represents a renewed sense of hope and optimism for the fight to come.
Only this hero doesn’t wear a cape. He wears No. 13.
Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup has missed the past seven games with a calf injury. But when executive vice president Stephen Jones said on Dallas radio Monday that the team would “get Michael Gallup back more than likely this week,” it buoyed a fanbase that was still stinging from a dismal showing from their offense, the kind that Cowboys Nation hoped had been left behind in the bizarro alternative-reality dimension known as 2020.
But the fans aren’t the only ones who have missed the fourth-year wideout from Colorado State. His offensive teammates are eager to have him back in the huddle as well.
“We’ll be really, really excited to get Michael,” offensive coordinator Kellen Moore said this week. “Obviously, huge aspirations for him as the season went on; he’s dealt with the injury as it went. We’re excited to have him back.”
Gallup’s injury in the season opener derailed what was to be a massive prove-it year for the 25-year-old. Set to become a free agent in 2022, Gallup had hoped to build off an 1,100-yard effort in 2019 and then a follow-up season in which he finished tied for the team lead in receiving touchdowns. A monster 2021 would translate to a lucrative new contract, either from Dallas or a new employer. But after just four catches in Week 1, Gallup was effectively shut down.
Finally cleared to practice again back on October 25, Gallup has been working with the Cowboys training staff to gradually get himself fully back to game speed. He was nearly ready for the Denver tilt, according to team owner Jerry Jones.
“Frankly, it was close,” Jones said Tuesday on 105.3 The Fan. “On hindsight you say, ‘Well, Michael does a great job of catching those long balls,’ which we really needed; some execution in our long passing game. And he does a great job. On hindsight, maybe you would have liked to see him out there, but that’s certainly hindsight. And that did not make the difference, the way we played. But it’s going to be good to have him back. We need him. He’s a really, really outstanding receiver.”
Head coach Mike McCarthy has confirmed that Gallup will practice in full on Wednesday. His return is tantalizingly close, hopefully coming Sunday.
“He’s going to do some awesome things for us; we’re excited,” Moore continued. “He’ll bring some juice, bring some energy. He’s going to go make some plays when he gets the opportunity and add to that room, make that room even more competitive, because we’ve got a lot of talent in that room that are excited. If they get an opportunity, they’re going to go take advantage of it.”
This week’s opponent, the Atlanta Falcons, will present a stiff challenge for Gallup and the Cowboys receiving corps. Their secondary is allowing just 10.5 yards per reception, tied for the sixth-best mark in the NFL. They’ve given up 300 fewer receiving yards than Dallas through eight games, and they’re the only defense in the league who has not allowed a pass play of over 40 yards all season.
Of course, the deep ball just happens to be Gallup’s superpower, with seven of his 13 career touchdowns coming from 20 yards or beyond. That quick-strike capability sure would have come in handy against Denver, when the Cowboys struggled so mightily to get anything on track and found themselves in a deep hole.
But perhaps the Atlanta native finally getting his comeback moment against his hometown Falcons is perfect storybook karma.
“I think it’s frustrating for everyone,” Moore said of how long it’s taken Gallup to mend from his stubborn injury. “Every player, you always want an opportunity to play. I think Michael’s just at that point now, obviously, where he’s getting closer and closer and ready to roll. He’s going to be real excited.”
In other words, get ready for a blockbuster second act from the superhero wearing No. 13.
Sign up for the Cowboys Wire email newsletter to get our top stories in your inbox every morning
Please re-enter your email address.
You’ll now receive the top Cowboys Wire stories each day directly in your inbox.