FRISCO – Plenty about this season is new to Cowboys rookie receiver Michael Gallup.
There are the Sunday Night Football matchups and new play calls, quicker-cutting defensive backs and a much brighter spotlight than his Colorado State and junior college days.
There’s also a new definition of a bad game.
“It’s tough,” Gallup said Tuesday afternoon. “Me being a rookie, I never really seen it like that. Even if I had a bad game, I still had like eight or nine catches in college.
“It’s a little bit different now.”
Gallup could tell NFL play would be different in the preseason, when the Cowboys faced the Cardinals and Gallup found himself in a matchup with Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson. He ran a post, excited for what he thought was separation from Peterson.
“I thought I was way in front of him, but he was right there,” Gallup said. “I should’ve known better.”
That’s become a theme. Gallup has caught just 40 percent of targets (six for 15) from quarterback Dak Prescott this season. A tipped ball off Gallup’s hand in Seattle marked the first of Prescott’s four interceptions the last two road games, all of which receivers tipped.
Gallup’s 82 receiving yards this year rank seventh among Cowboys. No receiver has 200 yards, Cole Beasley leading the team with 193 and Tavon Austin accounting for 125 yards and two scores. Tight end Geoff Swaim (159 yards) and running back Ezekiel Elliott (155) rank second and third in receiving yards.
The 16.4 yards per game are an adjustment from Gallup’s two years at Colorado State, when he averaged 97.8 yards in 2016 and 109.1 in 2017. Gallup caught 21 touchdowns in the 26 games and averaged nearly seven receptions per game. He’s yet to score in five weeks, averaging 1.2 catches per game.
Each dip is an adjustment. Gallup knows he needs to find ways to catch Prescott’s ball regardless of their accuracy. He and Allen Hurns each indicated Tuesday that receivers missed signals from Prescott in the Texans game and need better communication. They don’t see it as a valid excuse.
“Even if it’s a poor thrown ball,” Gallup said when asked about tipped passes, not in reference to a Prescott pass, “if it touches your hands, you’ve got to come up with it somehow.”
Gallup’s chances will continue to come. The 22 year old has played more than 46 percent of snaps on a roster crowded by six receivers even after Terrance Williams became the third receiver on IR, in addition to three in the practice squad.
He looks forward to facing notorious trash-talking cornerback Jalen Ramsey this week against the Jaguars, expecting Ramsey to “talk your head off the whole game” but wondering if “I might get a kick out of it.”
Either way, Gallup said, he won’t respond.
He’s learned to block out outside noise, he said, expect every catch to be a contested one, and study more film both in team meetings and on his own of opposing defensive backs. Gallup’s college receivers coach texts him to remind him the “little things” before and after games, complete with reminders not to sulk in tough plays.
“And if you have any questions,” Gallup says he’s learned, “make sure you ask.
“That was one thing I never did a lot of. I never really had to ask any questions. Now, I do.”
This Topic is Missing Your Voice.