Gone are spring workouts and the first five sessions of training camp. A New England Patriots locker room of 90 will go to 53 in four weeks.
Paul Turner doesn’t have much time to leave an impression.
But the 5-foot-10, 193-pound wideout by way of LSU and Louisiana Tech did leave one with the Philadelphia Eagles as an undrafted rookie in 2016.
“I really want him in that room with us,” Turner’s former and now once-again teammate, Jordan Matthews, would tell reporters as the calendar flipped to September. “He’s a great player. I know he belongs in the NFL.”
Turner made his case to belong by catching a league-leading 17 passes for a seventh-ranked 165 yards during his first NFL preseason.
He also returned four punts for 100 yards in the Eagles’ summer finale – with a 71-yard touchdown through the middle of the New York Jets’ coverage unit among them.
“He had a great training camp. Great camp,” Philadelphia head coach Doug Pederson reflected in his postgame press conference following that 14-6 exhibition win. “… He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. He’s making it hard on us, and that’s what I challenged all the young guys, really, to make it hard on myself, Howie [Roseman] and the personnel staff when we have to make these decisions by Saturday at 4 o’clock.”
Turner wouldn’t be waived at 4 o’clock that Saturday. Instead he’d be waived less than 48 hours after as the Eagles claimed fellow receiver Bryce Treggs off the wire.
But Turner was retained on Philadelphia’s practice squad for the next 10 weeks, and a promotion to the 53-man roster came in late November.
No. 19 made his regular-season debut with 23 snaps against the Green Bay Packers – in the absence of Nelson Agholor – and went catchless.
He wouldn’t six days later.
Turner’s first NFL reception gained 41 yards on a play-action rollout from the pistol, as quarterback Carson Wentz hit the slot man crossing over the middle of the field, behind the Cincinnati Bengals’ overpursuing second level.
It was one of six passes Turner collected in defeat as the aforementioned Matthews nursed an ankle injury.
All arrived in the second half.
The 5-foot-11, 193-pound target finished the game having accounted for 80 yards through the air. He gained 10 on a crosser versus linebacker Vontaze Burfict, and gathered 27 between an in-cut, a quick slant thrown behind him, and a comeback route – all versus cornerback Adam Jones. Then, at ‘X’ receiver, Turner ran a drag for a modest pickup of two yards opposite corner Darqueze Dennard.
That’d be the first start on Turner’s resume. He would get the nod in one more during that 2016 campaign in Philadelphia, closing it with nine receptions for 126 yards over 154 offensive snaps in four games.
Though that would be it.
The Eagles waived Turner with the injury designation after he suffered a fractured scapula last summer. The 25-year-old subsequently reached a settlement with the organization and was out of the league until the New Orleans Saints signed him to a reserve-futures contract in January.
His tenure with New Orleans stretched only beyond mandatory minicamp. Turner was waived in mid-June to make room for veteran running back Terrance West.
Turner proceeded to join New England on Friday in correspondence with tight end Troy Niklas’ departure.
“I mean, it’s been difficult,” Turner said of the acclimation after Sunday’s practice, via Patriots.com. “But, you know, for me it’s really just trying to go in there and focus on little things, technique and everything, one day at a time. Not trying to overwhelm with learning everything at one point in time, but just going in there learning the formations first, and then once you get the formations, focusing on the concepts. And I feel like if I could just continue to focus on those things and focus on the little things, everything will start to come together slowly. But I mean, it’s coming.”
Turner finds himself installing on a Patriots depth chart that includes Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Cordarrelle Patterson, an old advocate in Matthews, Phillip Dorsett, Kenny Britt, Malcolm Mitchell, Riley McCarron, Braxton Berrios and the recently re-signed Devin Lucien.
Mitchell and Britt have missed time due to knee and hamstring ailments, respectively. And Matthews, too, is reportedly dealing with a hamstring.
It is an opportunity, for now.
“I’m just having to put in a lot of work at night and a lot of work when we have a lot of free time,” added Turner. “You know, it’s not going to come all in one day, in the next couple days. It’s a complicated offense, so like I said, all you can do is continue to just study. I know it’ll come. I know I will pick it up sooner or later.”