Cowboys Preseason Notes: Introducing KaVontae Turpin, Young DB Impressions

To David Hermann
FOX Sports Dallas Cowboys Writer

Inglewood, Calif. — Nice to be reminded that this can be fun.

Saturday night’s 32-18 victory at SoFi Stadium was just that for the Cowboys after a boring and tiring game in Denver last week. It was a hell of a lot of fun.

No, this wasn’t regular season football. Both the Chargers and Cowboys participated in the bulk of the starters in the equivalent of youth auditions for each team.

But that’s the point. Even if your backups are on the field, you can still play some fun football and show off your young talent in the process.

Hopefully that trend will continue with the third and final exhibition game. For now, let’s talk about what stood out for Chargers.

early return

Usually it’s risky to infer too much from a preseason show, but in this case you don’t have to pay attention. KaVontae Turpin made this squad on Saturday night.

Honestly, a quick returner could already be a lock on the roster. There is none. The first was a great example of his straight-line speed, kicking off his team’s cluttered blocks to earn his return on a 98-yard kick.

The second was even more impressive. Turpin punts at Los Angeles’ own 14-yard line late in the second quarter, showing great vision and footwork to fend off a tackler, tiptoeing past his first three blocks before gassing near his own 30-yard line. was hit. .

By the time he reached the end zone eight seconds later, it felt like all his questions about his future had been answered.

“Speedkill,” said Turpin. “I took advantage of the blockers and their methods of blocking. It felt great for our special teams unit.”

For one of the newest additions to this roster, it’s a fun story. Turpin signed with the Cowboys in the first week of training camp and had just finished the USFL season as the league’s MVP. That didn’t give him much time to make a favorable impression — but he’s got game-breaking speed that can do wonders in that regard.

“Obviously, he was the best player I’ve seen in the USFL,” said Cowboys manager Mike McCarthy. “I was so impressed with him from day one.”

With CeeDee Lamb stepping into the top receiver role, the Cowboys entered training camp without a clear return man. With one week left in preseason, it looks like they’ve found him.

timely reminder

Trysten Hill, which was largely written off earlier this year, refuses to make things easier for everyone.

It was seen as a pivotal summer for Hill, a young defensive tackle who was drafted 58th overall in 2019. Injuries prevented Hill from making the type of impact envisioned by the Cowboys until this point in his career. Making his tackle defensively on this roster, this training camp felt like a crucial time for Hill to make a record or lose his spot on the roster.

Saturday night was the biggest sign Hill was going for the former. He did most of the work in the first half, finishing with three tackles and one sack. But calling it a sack doesn’t do it justice. Hill managed to dodge the defender and pocket it, swiping the ball out of Easton Stick’s hand and falling on it, putting the Cowboys into the Chargers’ red zone.

“I wish I had picked it up and run for a touchdown,” Hill said.

It was the best play of the month for the man who was repeatedly flashed during training camp. And not only did he make a splash his play, but he also drew an offensive holding his call that nullified a 17-yard gain.

“It feels good to see it come to fruition because I know it works and I believe in it,” Hill said.

In this case, declaring Hill a roster rock feels premature. His skill set isn’t as unique as Turpin’s. But another strong show emphasizes that ignoring him would be a mistake, showing just how difficult it is for this coaching staff to cut down the defensive line.

Greer debut

A groin injury delayed Will Greer’s first game as a cowboy last week, but Saturday finally gave us a glimpse of the rest of the backup quarterback battle.

Greer played against the Chargers this week. Cooper Rush started his game in the preseason in his second straight game, but ceded the field to Greer in the second quarter, allowing a previous third-round pick to lead his five possessions. Did.

The results largely mimicked what Greer had shown in previous training camps. His average night passing was he 6-for-10 for 98 yards and he scrambled for 9 yards. There was nothing to set the world on fire.

But the perfection he made stands out. His first throw of the night was a short bullet to Jake Ferguson that shook the rookie tight end loose and allowed him to run for extra yards. He followed that up by sending his third and his fifth throws to Simi Fejoko to break the defense to pick up 11 yards.

“When I cut it, I knew he had no chance of making it.” I’m afraid to make those throws.”

It’s been an undeniable impression looking at Greer so far. At the start of the fourth quarter, he lofted a back-shoulder ball to Brandon Smith, which worked perfectly, and his 32-yard completion that set up a field goal was the Cowboys’ longest gain of the night.

Decide if this means anything. Rush made Garrett his preseason backup quarterback before he took the job away from Gilbert in the 11th hour, and he looked helpless in the race. Depending on who you ask, what looks like a hotly contested competition may not be anything.

At the very least, Greer is playing interesting football and seems calm while doing it.

safety class

What a strange world we live in! He’s one thing that the Cowboys themselves have a solid safety group, but even the backup is impressive.

Jayron Kearse, Malik Hooker and Donovan Wilson didn’t just sniff the field at SoFi Stadium, they took a closer look at Israel Mukuamu and Markquese Bell. And have they ever been impressed?

Enjoying a strong camp in his second season, Mukuam made an early impact. Stick attempted his shot deep against a cover two look on his fifth play of the game for the Chargers. The ball was slightly knocked over, allowing Muquam to easily drift towards the sidelines and catch the interception with ease.

“I’m playing with confidence now,” Muquam said. “I understand how it works. He’s in his second year, so I understand making calls and queuing people.”

Intercept is cool, but the last part is important. It’s clear watching Muquam that defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is looking to develop a youngster for Curse’s role in this defence.

Kearse made a name for himself last year quarterbacking this scheme as a linebacker/safety hybrid, playing equally well as a matchup tool against box safety, coverage players and tight ends. Whether or not Muqam can do it remains to be seen, but he clearly has the skill set needed.In addition to interceptions, he has two passes with his breakups and his four tackles. Finished.

Bell is also worth mentioning there. Although he is not as long as Mukuam, his player in a 6-2 hybrid he finished with 5 tackles.

Quinn is looking for length, versatility and a football nose. Mukuamu and Bell have all three of him on display Saturday.

kicker check in

Call it a wash.

Lirim Hajrullahu and Brett Maher each got more jobs than Denver. They combined five kicks in total—one field goal each and three combined extra points.Hajrullahu connected with two extra points and he fielded his goal 35 yards. Maher added his two more runs and missed a field goal, but the attempt saw him slightly shy from 61 yards out. I think it’s a bit harsh to criticize a man for the near miss from the logo.

It’s interesting that McCarthy chose a two-point conversion after a second-quarter touchdown, denying another kicking opportunity in the process.

One more note: It’s interesting to think about how kickoff affects this fight. Six kickoffs were made with two kickers combined. Maher was widely considered to have strong legs and boomed on all three attempts in the end zone. Of his three kicks for Hajrullahu he had two returned, but it is worth noting that one of these attempts was backed up by his penalty for an illegal formation.

Yes, it’s ironic to wrap up the story of entertaining football by comparing kick-off attempts. .

David Helman covers FOX Sports’ Dallas Cowboys to provide insight and analysis on the NFL’s most famous franchise. Before joining FOX, he covered the Cowboys for nine seasons on the team’s official website, In 2018, he won a regional Emmy Award for producing “Dak Prescott: A Family Reunion,” about the quarterback’s era in Mississippi.

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