OXNARD, Calif. — Michael Gallup has made significant progress in his recovery from a torn ACL suffered in 2021 and, per head coach Mike McCarthy, is in the “fourth quarter” of his rehab, but he’s not quite ready to take the field yet. The Dallas Cowboys have already set an expectation that he could likely miss the season opener against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, if not multiple games to begin September, as they take a deliberate approach to ensure he’s 100% when he does suit up — having now made the expected move of placing him on the physically unable to perform list (PUP) to begin training camp.
As a point of reference, Gallup is walking normally and without a limp, and no longer requires the use of crutches of any sort.
Gallup is joined on the PUP list by three others, namely wide receiver Dontario Drummond, linebacker Aaron Hansford and cornerback Quandre Mosley. Damone Clark, the team’s rookie fifth-round pick, will start training camp on the non-football injury (NFI) list after voluntarily undergoing spinal fusion surgery in March.
And while the absence of Clark will impact the battle for depth at LB, there’s a notable omission from both the reserve list that will no doubt make for a great competition at the position beside Micah Parsons; as former fourth-round pick Jabril Cox has officially been cleared for all football activities. Look for Cox, whom the Cowboys hold in high regard and view as potentially a dynamic complement to Parsons, to battle it out with former first-round pick Leighton Vander Esch — who re-signed for 2022 on a one-year deal — for that right.
And you can also toss in the signing of Malik Jefferson here to help the Cowboys figure out who should survive final cuts on the non-starter side of the LB equation.
As for Gallup, it’s all about being cautious now to protect him later, having signed a five-year extension with the Cowboys earlier this offseason, a move the Cowboys played in tandem with trading away four-time Pro Bowl receiver Amari Cooper. The latter thrusts CeeDee Lamb into the role of WR1 and Gallup will see his touches increase mightily as well, but that’s the “later”, because the “now” will see him continue his recovery; and that opens the door in training camp for rookie standout Jalen Tolbert to try to siphon away attention from free agent acquisition James Washington — a head-to-head clash for the honor of being named WR2 (or) WR3 in September.
It’s one of many Cowboys camp battles to watch as things get underway in Southern California.