The Dallas Cowboys struggled through a brutally disappointing season in 2020, which clouded the sparkling rookie campaign of wide receiver CeeDee Lamb.
Fueling the team's failure was star quarterback Dak Prescott missing a big part of the season due to a gruesome ankle injury. Not having him on the field also negatively impacted Lamb's production.
Nonetheless, after being taken with the No. 17 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Lamb immediately made the Cowboys one of most high-powered offenses in the game. He caught 74 passes and five touchdowns, falling just shy of 1,000 yards with 935.
The Cowboys are blessed with three receivers capable of starting for any team in Lamb, Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. After his promising rookie season, Lamb should only improve in Year 2. Meanwhile, Cooper is on PUP, rehabbing his ankle, and Gallup is on Saturday returning to practice after almost eating fence at Tuesday's training camp workout in Oxnard. ...
And now on Saturday morning we know that Gallup is back for today's practice despite a tweaked ankle.
Head coach Mike McCarthy confirmed Gallup is returning to practice. He'll get first-team reps with Lamb as Cooper continues on PUP.
McCarthy, by the way, on Saturday said Gallup has "expanded his route tree" this offseason, adding to his value to his team ... and to his value as a free agent after this season.
So, anyway, Lamb isn't alone on the Dallas roster. And in his class? He's not alone there, either.
Heading into the 2021 season, there are quite a few second-year receivers looking to make a similar jump.
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Outside of Lamb, there is Jerry Jeudy of the Denver Broncos, Tee Higgins of the Cincinnati Bengals, Justin Jefferson of the Minnesota Vikings and Henry Ruggs of the Las Vegas Raiders. Could Lamb be the best sophomore wideout in the entire group?
Pro Football Focus analyst Sam Monson thinks Lamb is primed for a major breakout season that will make him the best sophomore receiver in the league.
"Don't be shocked if CeeDee Lamb is the best sophomore WR in the NFL this season."
Monson is picking Lamb even over Jefferson, who put together a massive rookie season with the Vikings of 88 receptions, 1,400 yards and seven touchdowns. With a healthy Prescott, Monson believes Lamb's production will skyrocket at - or even above - Jefferson's level.
Outside of Jefferson, there is no one competing too seriously for the bragging rights of being called the NFL's best sophomore wideout. Jeudy is talented and Higgins is good as well, but they aren't at the level of Jefferson and Lamb.
No matter who ends up producing the biggest numbers out of the second-year wide receivers, the Cowboys should be expecting big things from Lamb in 2021. He is going to be a focal point of the offense and he has worked hard on his craft this offseason. And Gallup? He's also done the work ... and now he's back at work.