One of the oldest sports clichés is never get too comfortable. That is how Eagles wide receiver and punt returner Britain Covey approaches every rep, every practice, and every game.
"Never get too comfortable in your role because if you get too comfortable somebody else will not," Covey said. "There is always someone behind you pushing harder. That is the motto I live by and how it has been since I got into the league."
As an undrafted free agent in 2022, that is the mindset that has helped Covey have success in his season-plus as an Eagle.
That is what got him through being waived in 2022 and released in 2023. Covey missed most of the preseason with a hamstring injury that hindered his chances to make a positive impression as a wide receiver and continue showing his elusive skill set as a punt returner.
"It was extremely disappointing," Covey said. "That was one of my only chances to show what I can do as a receiver which was exciting to me. I feel like that would have solidified my position, but it is not always in your control."
Covey believes that getting released was a blessing in disguise because it put him in a position where he was not comfortable and had something to prove.
The Eagles brought the second-year return man back on the practice squad where he was elevated for the first two games. This is the same thing that happened last year until he was signed to the active roster.
Covey was signed to the 53-man roster on September 20.
He always views himself as a practice squad player that gets elevated for every game.
"That is my motivation," Covey said. "My whole life has been similar to that."
While his motto is to never get too comfortable, Covey has become comfortable as a punt returner in the NFL.
Punt returning is a rare situation where there are no live reps until a game, and it is difficult to simulate in practice.
It took Covey the first few weeks of last season to adjust to the speed of the league and how defenses reacted. He was able to make changes to his approach and understand when and when not to take risks.
Once he became familiar with the league as a returner, Covey took off.
Since Week 6 of last season, Covey is first in the NFL in the following categories:
• Punt return yards (336)
• Punt return average (13.4)
• Punt returns of 15+ yards (9)
• Punt returns of 20+ yards (5)
• Punt returns of 25+ yards (4)
Covey carried over his success from last year to this one.
Through the first three weeks of the season, Covey has the second-most punt return yards (113), is tied for second in yards per punt returns (18.8), and first in most punt returns of 20 or more yards (2). He also has the fourth-longest punt return of the year (52).
The 52-yard punt return in Week 3 against the Buccaneers was the longest of Covey's career.
"I thought Britain did a great job of stretching the coverage, then puncturing the coverage and getting up the field," said Special Teams Coordinator Michael Clay. "He ran through a tackle and got to the sideline and did a heck of a job."
"We know we have maybe a hidden gem that not everybody always fully appreciates," said Head Coach Nick Sirianni. "I am so glad he is our punt returner. Man, he is a great, great punt returner. You saw that in college."
Covey's success in college has transferred over to the pros. At Utah, he amassed 1,092 punt return yards, a school record, and four touchdowns.
It is the approach, process, and mentality that are leading factors to the 26-year-old's consistency.
On Monday and Tuesday, Covey watches every punt rep from every game in the NFL that week.
"I try to put myself in the eyes of the returner and say what would I have done here," Covey said. "It is all a risk-reward ratio for me. I learn what that is by watching film."
Some returns are not meant to be flashy. Sometimes, he signals for a fair catch, and some, like his 52-yarder last Monday, collect big chunks of yardage. That is all part of the risk-reward approach that goes into Covey's game.
Covey knows that he is close to taking one to the house for his first touchdown.
"All the stars have to align," Covey said. "You have to pick and choose your moments, but we are close."
Relive the best moments from the 177 contests between the Eagles and the Commanders!