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Turpin Time: Rookie Returner Dominates Chargers


LOS ANGELES – This is exactly why the Cowboys signed KaVontae Turpin the first week of training camp.

This is exactly what Turpin expects from himself, too.

"I'm an exciting player, and every time I get the ball, there's a big play waiting to happen," the rookie receiver said after his 98-yard kickoff return and 86-yard punt return touchdowns in the first half of the Cowboys' preseason victory over the L.A. Chargers.

The Cowboys' 53-man roster won't be settled until the end of the month, but it's safe to say Turpin has made a strong argument for a spot as the primary return man and a backup receiver.

The former TCU and USFL star showed off his return ability Saturday, the same unique combo of speed and elusiveness that caught Cowboys special teams coordinator John Fassel's attention all the way back in college.

Saturday, Turpin gave the Cowboys an early 7-3 lead with the 98-yard kickoff return, taking advantage of an early crease set by fellow rookie Malik Davis' block. He gave the Cowboys a commanding 22-10 advantage with the punt return touchdown just before halftime, again dodging would-be tacklers until finding open field.

"(On the kickoff return) I caught it, went down the lane, made one cut, and I was off to the races," he said. "On the punt return, I had to make people miss and be shifty. I am just happy my guys blocked, and I'm just blessed to be on this team."

The Cowboys have an opening at punt returner with CeeDee Lamb ascending to No. 1 receiver status, and it remains to be seen if running back Tony Pollard will continue returning kickoffs full time now that he's expected to have a larger role on offense.

Turpin showed Saturday he's capable of filling those shoes.

"He's so dynamic," head coach Mike McCarthy said. "You go back to his college days and clearly, in my opinion, he was the best player I saw in the USFL coming out. I've been so impressed with him since day one. He got here the first day, picked the offense up and jumped right in there. He's very dynamic on special teams."

Turpin dedicated Saturday's game to his late former TCU teammate Jeff Gladney.

"This is for my boy Jeff," Turpin said. "He died before I came to the Cowboys, and the Cowboys were his favorite team. Once I got comfortable, it was him looking down on me. I'm just blessed to do this for my boy. A dream come true."

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