Cowboys rookie KaVontae Turpin flashes electric return ability with two TDs vs. Chargers

By Jori Epstein

KaVontae Turpin had shown this during an electric college career at TCU three-plus years ago. He’d flashed his rare ability again this spring in the USFL during his league-MVP campaign.

And Saturday night, with a 98-yard kick return touchdown followed by an 86-yard punt return touchdown, Turpin proved it again: He is a legitimate threat in the return game.

Turpin’s performance in a 32-18 victory over the Chargers likely solidified his spot on the Cowboys’ 53-man roster.

“I got the heart of a lion,” Turpin told the CBS broadcast during a sideline interview. “So I’m just trying to use my speed, use my ability that God gave me to my advantage.”

Turpin had handled returns in the Cowboys’ preseason debut last week. He returned two kickoffs for 47 combined yards (25 and 22 yards), returned a punt for 10 yards, and caught two passes for a combined 12 yards. But he “wasn’t really comfortable” in that contest, “so during this week of practice I got very comfortable,” Turpin said.

It showed.

Turpin’s first touch came with 6:17 to play in the first quarter, when he caught Chargers kicker Dustin Hopkins’ kickoff at the Cowboys’ 2-yard line. Then Turpin was off. He ran straight up the middle of the field, trusting his speed and his blockers as he surged past a mass of defenders.

“He’s got daylight in front of him,” said NFL Network’s broadcast after Cowboys tight end Sean McKeon neutralized the final likely threat to Turpin streaking down the right sideline. Within 12 seconds of his catch, Turpin reached the end zone.

A grin spread across head coach Mike McCarthy’s face. Teammates swarmed Turpin.

But Turpin wasn’t done.

With just over a minute left in the first half, the Chargers faced fourth-and-4 at their 32-yard line and opted to punt. Turpin lined up to receive. He caught this one at the opponent’s 14-yard line and immediately juked to leave Chargers rookie defensive back Deane Leonard sprawled on the ground. Then his zigzag continued, Turpin’s poise in traffic belying the defenders in near proximity. At least three Chargers were down before Turpin crossed the 50-yard line. Punter J.K. Scott tracked Turpin admirably into Cowboys territory before the 5-7, 158-pound weapon’s speed edged him home.

After his performance, Turpin paid tribute to former TCU teammate Jeff Gladney. Gladney, the Vikings’ 2020 first-round draft selection and later Cardinals player, died at 25 years old in a car accident in May.

“I just feel like my boy Jeff Gladney looking down on me, man,” Turpin said. “It was his favorite team, so I just feel like he’s smiling down on me on my second preseason game. I’m just happy for it.”

Read the rest of the article from USA Today here.