OXNARD, CA – The Dallas Cowboys signed a “dynamic” player with honors in professional football and off the field questions Thursday.
Wide receiver KaVontae Turpin won the USFL MVP award in June after racing the versatile weapon to 921 yards multi-purpose, including the best 540 yards in the league.
He didn’t get an NFL chance for the first four years after TCU fired him from its team in conjunction with assault charges.
“Obviously we’re aware of the situation as he’s out,” Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said Thursday morning before the team’s second training camp. “In life, if you get a second chance, you do the work. My understanding is that he was responsible and accountable and did the things he needed to do.
“He is very aware of what is expected of him and it is clear that this behavior is not what we are looking for.”
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In a 2018 affidavit obtained by USA TODAY Sports, a Tarrant County peace officer said Turpin’s partner at the time of five years told the officer that he was “pulling her, hitting her on the floor, causing her pain, and they started wrestling,” Turpin said. I got angry” after she thought his girlfriend was sending pictures of her to other people. One witness said he saw Turpin “flirt” his partner at the time by “grabbing her from behind with her arm on her neck, her feet pulling as she kicks him and screams at him”.
Turpin was arrested for assault and in 2019 pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily injury to his girlfriend. He received a two-year deferred sentence in 2019, according to the Dallas Morning News, and was ordered to complete a 27-week partner abuse intervention program.
“The classes helped me,” he said Thursday after training. “I have learned my responsibility and the consequences. I am just looking forward, putting that behind me and looking forward to becoming a greater man now.”
Turbine was also charged in New Mexico in 2018 with disorderly conduct, criminal damage to the property of a family member (less than $1,000) and communications interference. He pleaded no objection to the disorderly conduct charge and not guilty of tort, with the latter two being dismissed by the plaintiff under a plea agreement, according to a copy of the table obtained by USA TODAY Sports.
Since then, Turpin has played a professional role with the European Football Association’s Wroclaw Panthers in Poland, followed by the New Jersey Generals in the USFL. There, the dribbling that caught the attention of the USFL and NFL flashed.
“When you watch the tape, the thing that jumps out is that it’s dynamic and the ball is in his hand,” McCarthy said. “He’s coming back, his responsibility for the offense would be secondary. I think he has some Tony Pollard type traits from an offensive perspective. So again, I think this is a really good opportunity, and we’ve been talking about this for a while.
“In terms of the plan with (attack coordinator) Keelen (Moore), mobilization and so on… this is a very good opportunity.”
Turpin said the Cowboys were the first team he reached out to since the NFL season ended. He said he was waiting for a follow-up call on his sofa when he finally had a chance. Turpin said he feels just fine after three weeks of active play. He’s also comfortable with the durability of his 155-pound frame.
“I’ve always been the youngest guy out on the field, so I feel like that’s not an issue with me,” Turbine said, adding that the fastest 40-yard dash clocked in at 4.29 seconds. “Speed kills (and) I’m going to do everything I can to beat the guys fast.”
He thinks he can add value on return automatically, but he wants to show the receiver’s value with a style of play similar to DeSean Jackson and Tyreek Hill.
“I am here to prove to everyone that I am a real receiver,” Turbine said. “I moved. TCU, I was mostly a slot guy. USFL, I was a slot. So I guess now the Cowboys want me to be a slot guy. I’m very comfortable in the slot, so I think that’s what I’m looking to play.”
The Cowboys had question marks at the wide receiver after trading Amari Cooper to The Browns in the fifth round in March and Cedrick Wilson losing to Dolphins in free agency. Cooper had 68 passes for 865 yards last season, and no teammate has exceeded his eight touchdown mark (tied for tight end Dalton Schultz). Wilson had 61 passes for 602 yards and six touchdowns, also made 11 passes and completed all three passing attempts for 88 yards.
The Cowboys are looking to CeeDee Lamb (1,102 yards, six touchdowns in 2021) as their best future. Michael Gallup is expected to return in late September after rehab for a ruptured ACL. Cowboys veteran James Washington signed into free agency and drafted rookie Galen Tolbert in the third round as additional weapons. Pollard and Schultz are expected to contribute as pass hunters as well.
The Cowboys ceded linebacker Nick Ralston Thursday morning to make way for Torpin, who immediately integrated individual drills into practice. He’ll turn to team practice after playing nearly year-round with little time between his Poland and NFL chances and now his NFL fortunes.
The Cowboys ceded linebacker Nick Ralston Thursday morning to make way for Torpin, who immediately integrated individual drills into practice. McCarthy said they’d make it easier for him in group workouts, especially after he played in the USFL until June.
“(USFL) is great for those young players who are kind of at a crossroads or crossroads and are looking for another opportunity,” McCarthy said. “So obviously we and the rest of the NFL are paying close attention because you see these players getting chances in the league.
“When we talk about the reception room, the ability to play more than one position, you have players on the inside, players on the outside, you have players that give you some dynamism in the back court. He definitely has those traits.”
Contributing: Tom Shad
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