This is, in a very real way, like cramming for a test. Everything Kevin Byard does from here on out until the Eagles have some time off in a couple of weeks is about learning an established defense, translating a foreign language, and acclimating himself in a locker room filled with new teammates.
He couldn't be more excited.
And if that means you are one of the dozens of friends, family, or otherwise texting him and calling his phone congratulating him on a return to his native Philadelphia to join a surging football team, hey, please understand. He just doesn't have time to get back to you right now.
"I'm just coming in to learn the playbook, develop a relationship with the guys, and just try to come in and help as much as possible," Byard said on Wednesday at his NovaCare Complex locker in his second full day as an Eagle after being acquired in a trade with Tennessee. "Obviously, this team has a great culture of winning, has great leadership here, and I just want to come in and earn the respect of all of my teammates by first and foremost preparing the right way, taking care of my body, and doing all of those little things.
"Trying to do whatever I can to help this team win. It's exciting for me. It's been a crazy, what, 48 hours, to travel and join a new team in the middle of the year."
New Eagles safety Kevin Byard flew to Philadelphia on Tuesday morning and arrived at the NovaCare Complex to begin learning about the organization and the scheme. Check out the photos of his arrival.
The Eagles expect Byard to be a great fit in his eighth season. Twice Byard has been a first-team All-Pro selection as well as a two-time Pro Bowl pick. He has range – Byard has picked off 27 passes in his career – leadership skills, versatility, and durability (he has 111 straight starts under his belt). In short, he is a total safety package.
He isn't here to change the world or change his game. Just being Kevin Byard is enough.
"Come in, do what you can in your role, and just help win games," Byard said. "Obviously, I feel like I'm a great player, but at the end of the day, it's not really about that. It's about what I do now that I'm here. I had a great career in Tennessee, but I'm a Philadelphia Eagle now and that's what it's more about – moving forward, making plays, and winning games.
"This is my eighth season and I'm feeling really good, coming off a bye week, too. I'm definitely feeling fresh right now. This team has a great culture and I'm just looking to add to that. It feels good to wake up 6-1."
It also feels good waking up on familiar ground. Byard was born in West Philadelphia – 52nd Street, he said – and was here until ninth grade when his family moved to Atlanta. He was in Philadelphia twice in 2022, once to play the Eagles and once to bury his mother. Prior to that, the previous two times he was in the city was to bury his grandmothers on separate trips.
This time, he's smiling.
"It feels good to be in Philly on a good note," said Byard, who has hosts of uncles and aunts. "Everybody is super excited for me to be here and I just haven't been able to get to all the text messages. This feels like home."
Byard grew up an Eagles fan, of course, living through the ups and downs of the early 2000s. He says Brian Dawkins was a huge influence in his career and there are certain aspects of his game – the versatility is part of it – that Byard has tried to copy.
"There is only one Brian Dawkins," said Byard, who now uses the same locker stall as the iconic player once did at the NovaCare Complex. "He is a Hall of Famer. I'm just trying to do anything I can to help – watch a lot of film, take care of my body, and keep training at a high level. I'm here with a bunch of guys who know the defense and who have been winners – the Eagles were in the Super Bowl last season. They're going to help me learn the defense and we all have to communicate to have success.
"That's the bottom line. It's not about me. It's about being here and helping the Philadelphia Eagles win."
And if that means he's going to have a bunch of unread text messages and unanswered ticket requests, so be it. Byard has more important things on his mind.