FRISCO, Texas – KaVontae Turpin is different. Consider this for a moment: the turbocharged wide receiver delivered a Pro Bowl season for the Dallas Cowboys in his first year with the club, which was also his first year in the NFL, which also came immediately after he not only played an entire USFL season in the spring; but also one in which he was named league MVP.
Are you following not only the ascension, but also the chronology of events there?
Turpin went from wrapping up his USFL MVP season on July 3 and went on to sign a three-year deal with the Cowboys, joining them in training camp on July 27, giving his body virtually no rest in-between professional football seasons. For context, most NFL players are allowed 4-5 months of rest and recovery before returning for OTAs and roughly seven months before going full speed again in training camp.
Turpin had 24 days … and still became a Pro Bowler.
That bodes well for what might await him in Year 2, given he’s now returning from the aforementioned five-month break that others are typically afforded.
“I feel rested going into Year 2,” said Turpin following the first round of 2023 OTAs. “I feel like my body is back up to par. I’m not hurting and I’m not tired. I’m feeling good right now.”
That was evident in watching him practice, because Turpin bounced around like a jackrabbit all session, and that included getting a good bit of burn on the offensive side of the ball as well.
He was allotted reps at wideout in last year’s training camp and made some big plays when given the opportunity, but it’s likely his workload was being managed when considering, as mentioned, he didn’t have a break before joining the Cowboys and was also their ace on kick and punt return.
In speaking with Turpin directly about the possibility of that playing into the Cowboys decision to rarely line him up on offense last season, he intimated that played into the coaches’ decision.
That means there’s at least a solid chance that changes in Year 2, now that he’s rested and with rookie sixth-round pick Deuce Vaughn available as insurance on kick and punt return — though there is no competition there for that role, with Turpin starting OTAs having taken 100% of the reps as the team’s returner (Vaughn was working on being a personal protector).
“Me and [Mike McCarthy] talked about it during our exit forum [following the 2022 season], and he told me to get my rest because [this] year they’re gonna try to find plays and ways to get me some touches on offense,” said Turpin. “So that’s what I did. … I just have to stay patient. … I’m just trying to do my job and make sure [the coaches] see me as a playmaker.”
Circling back to the special teams side of the coin, the NFL has recently unleashed a new rule that awards the 25-yard line to those who decide to fair catch, another step toward what many view as a mission to reduce the number of actual kickoff return attempts to zero.
It’s something that could make life more difficult for Turpin, that is if he believes it affects him.
“To be real, I don’t really care about the kickoff return rule because I’m not fair catching [anything on kickoff return — just being real with you,” said Turpin, smiling. “Punt return? Yeah OK sure, but kickoff return? I’m not fair catching [anything] so that new rule?
“I don’t care about it. They had it in college and I didn’t fair catch [then].”
In other words, expect the same hungry version of Turpin in 2023 that you saw in 2022, except this time he’s actually gotten some rest, and that means you could see him on the field more.
His pedal is still to the floor, but this time he’s starting with a full tank of gas.