FRISCO - Wide receiver CeeDee Lamb quietly changes into shoes at his locker at the Dallas Cowboys practice facility here inside The Star. A couple feet away, near quarterback Dak Prescott's locker, rookie KaVontae Turpin silently gets ready after a rigorous practice. The two players are naturally more reserved but cooperate with the attention that is produced by their jobs.
However, something stirs them up.
If the Dallas Cowboys had a superlatives Yearbook page, what would you be? I asked.
"Best Basketball Player," the receiver Turpin tells me.
Lamb, who regularly hoops, breaks out in laughter. Turpin doubles down.
“They don’t want to see me on the court," Turpin says towards Lamb. "I am the fastest person on the team and for sure the best basketball player on the team.”
Is there anyone who would challenge you as 'The Best'? I ask Turpin.
“Me!” says Lamb, who can no longer refrain from joining my interview.
Turpin turns to Lamb, and states, “I am Ja Morant to the fullest.”
CeeDee gasps, “You dunk?”
“This is going to shock you, bro!” Turpin says as he pulls out his cell phone.
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With a quickness that rivals his foot speed, Turpin presents videos of him defying gravity to dunk. At 5-foot-9 and 153 pounds, Turpin can indeed slam the basketball through the hoop with ease and creativity. In the videos, Turpin once tomahawks dunks with a smile, and then catapults and twists his body into a windmill dunk.
“I have never seen anything like that!” CeeDee says, “You got it!”
Turpin does have that "it" factor. When he fields a punt, the buzz in AT&T Stadium (and, I can testify, in the "unbiased'' press box as well) is palpable and Cowboys fans at home hold their breath, hoping to witness his electrifying speed take a return to the house.
Turpin is the best returner in TCU history and is the only player in the USFL to score a kick return touchdown. He broke onto the scene for Dallas when he returned both a punt and kick return for a touchdown in the preseason win against the Los Angeles Chargers. Turpin clocked a blistering speed of almost 21 MPH during both those touchdown returns.
Does it feel like a matter of time before Turpin breaks a long return?
"I hope so ..." says Dallas coach Mike McCarthy. "Yes, he's been explosive in practice and the progression is for it to happen in a game. He's done a nice job with his opportunities."
Through his first two NFL games, Turpin's longest return is 20 yards, which is tied for the third-longest return of the season. As the 1-1 Cowboys ready to play at the Giants on Monday night, Turpin ranks sixth in the NFL in punt return average.
There is no doubt Turpin's elusiveness make him of the toughest Cowboys to tackle. But now you know it's Turpin's ability to dunk on a basketball court that shocks teammate CeeDee Lamb. ... and probably shocks Cowboys Nation as well.
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