KaVontae Turpin proving he’s more than just special teams for the Cowboys

KaVontae Turpin is proving he’s more than just special teams for the Cowboys.
Oct 23, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA;  Dallas Cowboys wide receiver KaVontae Turpin (9) runs back a
Oct 23, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver KaVontae Turpin (9) runs back a / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

When the Cowboys signed Kavontae Turpin to a three-year deal in July of 2022, they weren’t quite sure what they were getting. The reigning USFL MVP was a jack-of-all trades for the New Jersey Generals. His 540 receiving yards led the league and his 129 rushing yards and 184 return yards made him a potential multitool weapon for the Cowboys.

It was made apparent early on, Turpin offered something special in the return game, returning both a punt and a kick for touchdowns in the preseason. His breakthrough earned him a roster spot and a reputation around the NFL.

Even though he couldn’t secure a touchdown in the regular season, Turpin would go on to win a Pro Bowl spot as a return man, averaging 10.4 yards/punt return and 24.2 yards/kick return in his rookie season.

As Turpin sets his sights on the 2023 season, he’s eyeing more than just returns. The speedy TCU product is hoping to become a difference maker on offense as well. In Cowboys camp in Oxnard, Tuprin has been flashing big plays. He’s showing why he belongs in the offensive conversation and that his skills aren’t resigned to just special teams.

KaVontae Turpin a clear standout at Cowboys training camp

Working against him is his size and Mike McCarthy’s history of avoiding small pass catchers on his offense. McCarthy rarely uses small receivers in his system and even the exception to his rule, Randall Cobb, is a giant compared to Turpin (Cobb: 5-foot-10, 195-pounds, Turpin: 5-foot-7, 153-pounds).

With all of that said, Turpin’s speed and quickness in and out of breaks are skills that can’t be taught. McCarthy has shown a willingness to change somewhat in recent seasons and Turpin’s unique skillset could prompt McCarthy to continue his evolution as a coach.

Motion at-the-snap is a proven wrinkle top offensive coordinators lean on to open up space for their playmakers. Whether the motion man gets the ball or not, the motion forces defenses to adjust, dividing attention and creating opportunity.

Historically, McCarthy hasn’t used much motion in his gameplans, but the evidence of its effectiveness has never been clearer and he’s arguably never had a weapon like Turpin to unleash.

Turpin is the prototypical sweep option in a motion offense. Running him horizontally across the formation at the snap will prevent defenses from keying in on Tony Pollard between the tackles.

As evidenced by his play in Oxnard, Turpin has also been a vacuum for the football. Despite his diminutive frame and corresponding limited catch radius, Turpin has been extending for balls and making plays in training camp. He’s showing he’s not a one trick pony and that he has value in ways other than special teams.

Most will agree, Turpin is threat to score every time he has the ball in his hands. It’s up to McCarthy and staff to figure out what’s the best way to increase those opportunities.

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