ARLINGTON, Texas -- Michael Gallup is back, and he wasted no time making sure everyone knew it. One of the most talented wide receivers on the Dallas Cowboys roster, and one who has already established himself as a 1,000-yard receiver in the NFL, Gallup was sidelined after the regular season opener with a calf strain that landed him on injured reserve. He'd go on to miss seven games with the injury before returning in Week 10 to battle the Atlanta Falcons -- a bit of a romantic subheader when you consider he's also from Atlanta.
It didn't take long for Gallup to start galloping, either. Dak Prescott would be sure to get him involved early, tapping him for an 11-yard pass on the first possession of the game before using their chemistry -- something that was often missed this season, despite strong offensive outings by the Cowboys -- to convert on fourth-and-3 in the second quarter, and with the type of toe drag swag that has become a trademark of Gallup's skill set.
Leading 14-3 at the time, Gallup reeled in Prescott's toss for a 23-yard gain that put the ball on the Falcons' 2-yard line, where Ezekiel Elliott would finish the job with a two-yard touchdown to begin putting Atlanta to bed before halftime.
"When your number is called, you just go out there and execute," Gallup said of the fourth-down conversion. "Last time I was on the field, we took an L. My first game back, got a big dub. I'm just blessed, excited to be out there.
"It was a fun game."
It's been a long wait for Gallup to get back onto the field, but he's glad he didn't rush himself through rehab.
"Long wait, long wait," he told media after beating down the Falcons. "Patience is a virtue. I'm glad I waited out for it and got healthy so I could do what I do."
The return of Gallup injects a different level of potency into a unit that not only also features Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb, but also Cedrick Wilson Jr., who played great football with Gallup on the sideline. And then there's Noah Brown, who's been known to step up and make a timely catch on several occasions already this season, and a young up-and-comer in Malik Turner, rounding out a WR unit deep enough to make Jacques Cousteau nervous.
"All of our wide receivers are great," said Gallup. "Every player on this team, they're all great players. Just to be a part of it, I know from sitting on the sidelines watching the game, I just wanted to get a little piece, a little bit of the action. For me to come out here and show I can still run with the best, after injury, that's all I can ask for."
It wasn't a perfect return, however, with a bit of rush finally showing itself by way of a dropped pass that would've been a house call if Gallup didn't take his eyes off of the ball. It was the one and only mistake he made in the game, and that shows his level of preparation when factoring in the fact he hadn't taken a single game rep since Sept. 9 in Tampa.
Still, he wants that one back.
"I was so hurt about that. I was so hurt about it," he lamented. "I was looking down the field. Just catch the ball first Mike, just catch the ball first."
He'll get plenty of opportunities to do that going forward, because Prescott isn't going to shy away from throwing to his deep ball threat -- having had to play the majority of the season already without him. And considering it's a contract year for Gallup, you can bet he's ready to get back to the business of bullying any defensive back trying to shrink his 2022 bag.