FRISCO, TX — It was only a few short months ago, July specifically, when the question was posed regarding the potential involvement of KaVontae Turpin in the Dallas Cowboys' offense in 2023, seeing as it was all but nonexistent for the Pro Bowl returner as a rookie in 2022.
At the time, head coach Mike McCarthy made it clear Turpin would need to dive deeper into the playbook and fine tune some details to earn his opportunities, and the latter got right to work in Oxnard, leaving training camp in Southern California as one of the offensive standouts with plenty of promise of possibly becoming another weapon for Dak Prescott.
Fast forward your life's DVR to Thanksgiving Day and you'll see he's become exactly that.
"He's disciplined in his route-running," said McCarthy following the 43-10 shellacking of the Washington Commanders.
That truth was put on full display on one play in particular against Jack Del Rio's defense, or rather what was once his defense, when Dak Prescott dropped back on 3rd-and-6 in the fourth quarter — the Cowboys standing on a 31-10 lead — to fire a dot down the seam that became a 34-yard touchdown to Turpin.
It was a master class of scheming by McCarthy and execution by Prescott, Turpin and others (e.g., Brandin Cooks forcing the cornerback to pick his poison) that rewarded Turpin with his third receiving touchdown of the season.
"The post route he runs, you can't run it any better," said McCarthy of the play. "His angle, his stride, his timing are all stress that he puts on the safety and then you can see the safety react off of Brandin — going off the redline — I think that's a clear picture of the details and the specifics that Turp is playing with right now."
In all, he's delivered four offensive TDs for the Cowboys through 11 games after being zeroed out offensively in 2022. For perspective, he was targeted as a receiver only twice last season.
"He's gonna continue to grow and he's done a really good job in that receiver's room," McCarthy added. "I'm really proud of that young man."
The trust and chemistry Turpin has established with McCarthy and Prescott is paying off like gangbusters. What's more are the quiet statistics that reveal his true impact, as in how eight of his 10 receptions have resulted in first downs and in how he's second only to CeeDee Lamb in the number of times he's converted on third downs when targeted by Prescott.
Wiser, more rested from a offseason that didn't involve going from the USFL to Cowboys' training camp, and hellbent on proving he's not only one of the toughest in the league, but one of the more dangerous, and it's not hard to tell why Turpin is beginning seeing the fruits of his labor.
For his part, the second-year speedster says the aforementioned Thanksgiving Day highlight is simply the latest in a growing library of evidence that the Texas Coast offense is just getting started, having exploded the past several weeks into a version of itself that has some rightfully putting Prescott in the MVP conversation heading into Week 13.
What's changed, according to Turpin??
"Execution, all the guys trusting each other," he said. "We go in each and every week just trying to do better than the last week and, I feel, we're doing that. … It [doesn't matter] who we play.
"If we go out there and play Cowboys' football, we're gonna be alright."
Per the scoreboard, he's not lying.