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Cowboys WR KaVontae Turpin still plans to run it back: 'I'm not fair catching' anything

During the Spring League Meeting, owners approved a resolution to allow teams to begin possession at the 25-yard line if a player fielding a kickoff opts for a fair catch anywhere behind the 25.

But the Cowboys' electric return man, KaVontae Turpin, doesn't plan on drastically changing his approach just because the rules have changed.

"To be real, I don't really care about the kickoff return rule because I'm not fair catching [anything] on kickoff return -- just being real with you," Turpin said, via the team’s website. "Punt return? Yeah, OK sure, but kickoff return? I'm not fair catching [anything], so that new rule? I don't care about it. They had it in college and I didn't fair catch."

Turpin might find scenarios where it's more pragmatic to take the field position, but it makes sense for now that he's still eyeing a shot at kick return glory wherever the opportunity presents itself.

The 26-year-old turned a season as the USFL Most Valuable Player into a chance with the Cowboys last year, and he ran with it (almost exclusively on kick and punt returns) to a Pro Bowl appearance as a rookie.

On 21 kick returns, Turpin amassed 508 yards with a long of 63 and a 24.2 yards per return average, and he had 303 total yards on 29 punt returns.

It was a stellar debut that put on display his full toolkit of highlight-reel moves.

That unfortunately didn't translate to being a part of the operation on offense. Dallas used him sparingly, giving him just three carries and targeting him in the passing game twice. But Turpin is hopeful that his second year in the NFL opens the door for more touches beyond the special teams phase he already excels in.

"Me and [head coach Mike McCarthy] talked about it during our exit forum [following the 2022 season], and he told me to get my rest because [this] year they're gonna try to find plays and ways to get me some touches on offense," Turpin said. "So that's what I did. … I just have to stay patient. … I'm just trying to do my job and make sure [the coaches] see me as a playmaker."

Unlike last year, when his USFL season ended in early July and Cowboys training camp began later the same month, Turpin has had a complete offseason for recovery. He'll also have a full offseason program of preparation, and although the Cowboys traded for Brandin Cooks in March, they did little else in April's draft to block Turpin's path to an expanded role.

While CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup and Cooks are sure to dominate snaps as a trio, there are targets behind them to be had -- especially while 2023 second-round tight end Luke Schoonmaker adapts to the pro game and if 2022 third-round WR Jalen Tolbert doesn't show massive improvement.

McCarthy also has never been timid about lining up wideouts in the backfield. He did so often with players like Randall Cobb, and his offense gave Lamb double-digit carries last year. Turpin is a shiftier ball-carrier than both with higher top-end speed, though his usage might get capped at gadget player if he can't prove himself an able route runner at the NFL level.

Time will tell what extra responsibilities Turpin manages to carve out, as well as how many kick returns he gives a go along the way.

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