OXNARD, Calif. — The Dallas Cowboys are counting on CeeDee Lamb to fulfill the No. 1 receiver role and feel pretty good about his ability to do so. They also seek to give more touches to reserve running back Tony Pollard in what could be a return to his role from his college days at Memphis.
Those two guys will have more on their plate in 2022 and they also happen to be last year's punt returner and kickoff returner.
Enter KaVontae Turpin. The former TCU Horned Frog — most recently of the USFL's New Jersey Generals — had an outstanding season in the spring with 44 receptions for 540 yards and four touchdowns in the 10-game USFL season, which earned him the league's most valuable player.
Although Turpin does have slot receiver ability at 5 feet, 9 inches, 155 pounds, the Cowboys need him to replace Lamb and Pollard in the return game.
"We picked up Turpin and I have huge aspirations for him as well as a couple of other guys we got to compete for that spot," special teams coach John Fassel told reporters on Aug. 3.
Fassel was on vacation with his family in Idaho when the Cowboys worked out Turpin following the USFL season. Fassel was texting vice president of player personnel Will McClay and asking him if he needed to come back to Frisco for the workout.
"I said, ‘Will, if you want me to come back for this workout, I’ll come back,'" Fassel said. "And he was like no we got it. We’ll film it. We’ll send it to you."
Fassel has had Turpin on his radar since 2018 when he was in the same capacity for the Los Angeles Rams. After Turpin's dismissal from the TCU football program due to a family violence conviction, Turpin looked for every opportunity from the Fan Controlled Football League, the European League of Football, the Spring League and the USFL.
"When we found out he was on our radar, I was very hopeful and obviously when we signed him, super excited," Fassel said. "And he’s got a long ways to go to compete. But I think this is a team that has potential role for him and I hope he exploits it.”
Turpin knows the Cowboys brought him in as a returner, but he still has his sights set on getting offensive snaps.
"A return man, that’s what I do," Turpin said. "I’m a specialty guy. I’m just here to prove I’m a true receiver. Special teams is just what I do, I wake up and do that. So, I’m just here to prove to everybody that I’m a receiver now.”
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