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Cowboys news: KaVontae Turpin steals the show as Dallas cruises 32-18 over Chargers

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Dallas Cowboys v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

KaVontae Turpin returns a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns in first half - Charean Williams, PFT

It doesn’t seem like there is much doubt KaVontae Turpin will make the 53-man roster.

KaVontae Turpin showed why he was the USFL MVP this spring. If there was any doubt about his spot on the Cowboys’ roster before Saturday night, Turpin answered it during the first half against the Chargers.

Turpin returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter following a Chargers’ field goal. He added an 86-yard punt return for a touchdown 52 seconds before halftime.

Turpin also had a run for 7 yards, and the Cowboys lead the Chargers 29-10 at halftime.

Turpin played for the New Jersey Generals in the USFL. He caught 44 passes for league-leading 540 yards and four touchdowns in 10 games, while rushing for 129 yards and a touchdown. He also had 184 punt return yards and was the only player in the league to score a touchdown on a kick return, going 71 yards against Michigan in Week 9.

He remained an NFL free agent until July 28, two days into the Cowboys’ training camp.

Turpin has kickoff, punt return TDs; Cowboys beat Chargers - AP

There was stuff that happened beside Turpin, but he was the main attraction.

“I’m an exciting player, and every time I get the ball, there’s a big play waiting to happen. I’m happy to be here and take advantage of this opportunity,” said Turpin, who led the USFL in receiving yards and had the league’s lone punt return for a TD.

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After two days of joint practices earlier in the week, both teams rested most of their starters. Dallas improved to 1-1 while the Chargers are 0-2.

Cooper Rush and Will Grier each directed first-half TD drives for the Cowboys, while Rico Dowdle and Malik Davis each had rushing scores. Dowdle finished as the game’s leading rusher with 44 yards on 13 carries.

Easton Stick played the first half for the Chargers and connected with Joshua Palmer on a wide receiver screen for an 18-yard touchdown early in the second quarter to give the Chargers a short-lived 10-7 advantage.

Cowboys should sign Ex Chiefs pro bowler Eric Fisher for massive o-line upgrade - Mike Fisher, Cowboys Country

Could Eric Fisher be the solution to Dallas’ swing tackle conundrum?

Left tackle Tyron Smith dinged an ankle; he’s going to be fine, but as he hasn’t played a full season since 2015, there is a concern there. The Cowboys wanted to hand the job being him (and behind right tackle Terence Steele) to late-round rookie Matt Waletzko, but he’s got a shoulder injury that might cost him the season.

Next man up is second-year guy Josh Ball, who has not impressed, with another shot at it in Saturday’s preseason game at the Chargers.

Isn’t it obvious that Eric Fisher - once the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft, who played eight seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs and was in the Pro Bowl as recently as 2020 - is an upgrade over Ball? And over Waletzko? And maybe even still talented enough to in theory even push Steele?

Fisher moved to the Indianapolis Colts for the 2021 season and was a full-time starter, good enough for the Colts to try to bring back before the two sides couldn’t agree on contract terms.

CBS gives Tyler Smith impressive grade for his first preseason game - Lauren Barash, The Landry Hat

Tyler Smith is a work in progress, but definitely looks the part early on.

Cowboys rookie Tyler Smith receives an A- grade from CBS Sports for his performance in preseason Week 1

Here’s what writer Chris Trapasso said about the rookie:

After extensively watching Tulsa film to zero in on Smith during the pre-draft process, the Cowboys first-round pick’s debut as a professional went almost exactly as expected. He was seemingly a bit lost on occasion, even bumping into the center or tackle. But he battled like hell and demonstrated brute, veteran-like strength in straight-up, man-to-man scenarios, in pass pro and for the run game. There was seemingly one blown assignment across a gap from him that led to a pressure. Other than that, I love how Smith played against the Broncos.

In other words, that upside people are talking about is certainly there. It feels like the unreachable things (size, strength, tenacity) all seem to be there for Smith. Now, it’s about working with his coaching staff to refine his technique and stay away from penalties. The 21-year-old is ready to put in that work and knows he has more to do.

Interesting factors in battle for 3rd RB spot - Jess Haynie, Inside The Star

The battle to become the Cowboys RB3 is heating up.

While the Dallas Cowboys came up short in their first preseason game their running backs certainly weren’t to blame. As Rico Dowdle, Malik Davis, and Aaron Shampklin continue battling for a roster spot, a few key factors will go a long way to deciding who makes the team.

All three of these RB hopefuls looked good in Denver. Dowdle, who missed last year with a hip injury, restored confidence in his health and potential. He was decisive with his running lanes and created extra yards against the Broncos’ primary backups.

Malik Davis and Aaron Shampklin, both undrafted rookies, also shined with their carries. Davis led the team with 51 rushing yards on just eight carries. Shampklin added 32 yards on seven carries; everyone looked effective with their opportunities.

More carries are on the way tonight as the Cowboys meet the Chargers in Los Angeles. With Ezekiel Elliott not playing in preseason games and Tony Pollard likely getting limited work at the most, the guys fighting for jobs should get a decent workload in these last two games to help management make their decision.

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