KaVontae Turpin has been one of the more interesting figures for the Cowboys in 2022. While he’s yet to find the endzone, Turpin has given us several exciting moments on special teams and a constant sense of electricity with the ball in his hands. But with only a few offensive touches so far, when will KaVontae start getting more opportunities to use his speed in other ways?
Turpin was a late addition to the roster, signing just as training camp started in late July. He quickly left no doubts about who’d be handling kick and punt return duties for the Cowboys in 2022, scoring on one of each in Dallas’ preseason victory over the Chargers.
Though Turpin hasn’t scored yet in the regular season, he has been a consistent threat and provided Dallas with improved field position on numerous occasions. Turpin’s speed creates opportunities that other players might not have, and he’s also avoided the turnovers that sometimes cost returners their jobs. We saw that happen to the Packers’ Amari Rodgers just last week.
Speaking of that Green Bay game, it also gave us Turpin’s first NFL reception. It came in the final seconds of regulation on a desperation play from the Cowboys, who hoped getting the ball into Turpin’s hands might lead to some magic. But the Packers only allowed nine yards and preserved overtime on the way to a win.
That catch by Turpin was only the second time he’s even been targeted in the passing game. And other than three other touches through rushing attempts, he has been a non-factor on offense. With the Cowboys struggling to find consistent juice on that side of the ball, can they afford to continue leaving Turpin on the shelf?
Remember, Turpin isn’t just some undrafted rookie still trying to learn the ropes. He was the MVP of the USFL earlier this year, leading the fledgling professional league in receiving yards as one of its most dynamic offensive players. The 26-year-old has also played professionally in Europe and other alternative leagues before finally getting this NFL opportunity with Dallas.
Granted, this is the big leagues and Turpin has assuredly had his growing pains. But speed is something that can’t be taught and can only be defended against so much, and he has more than enough to be a play-making weapon.
It was more understandable early in the year when Cooper Rush’s time at quarterback led to a more conservative approach, or even in those first two games after Dak Prescott returned. But after the bye week, one would have hoped that Dallas would start showing some new pages in the playbook.
The pressure for creativity is certainly on now as the Cowboys face the 8-1 Minnesota Vikings in a critical matchup. Not only does Dallas want to stay afloat in the NFC East and in the wild card picture, but they desperately need to restore momentum and find redemption after last week’s blunder.
Of course, we don’t know how many times Turpin has dropped passes, run the wrong route, or committed other sins in practice that have made the coaches dubious about using him more in games. But barring some significant concerns, it seems like it’s time to start working Turpin more into the offensive mix. Tony Pollard can’t be the only guy busting plays open out there.
Until Michael Gallup gets back into form and we see what James Washington can even offer at receiver, Dallas clearly needs more firepower on offense. It seems like this explosive option is ready and waiting in KaVontae Turpin, and perhaps last week’s touch in a critical moment is a sign that the Cowboys have bigger plans ahead.