The Eagles on Wednesday morning officially put nickel cornerback Avonte Maddox in Injured Reserve.
Maddox, 27, needs surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle and is most likely going to miss the rest of the 2023 season. Although the IR designation doesn’t technically signal the end of the season for Maddox, this is a big loss for the Eagles.
To fill Maddox’s spot on the active roster, the Eagles signed punt returner Britain Covey to their active roster. They replaced Covey’s spot on the practice squad by signing running back Bryant Koback.
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While Madox has been a good player during his six-year NFL career, he has struggled to stay healthy, especially recently. Last season, Maddox missed nine regular season games and one playoff game with three different injuries. He then had offseason surgery to repair his toe. And now he's suffered another major injury.
Without Maddox, the Eagles went to second-year cornerback Mario Goodrich on Thursday night against the Vikings. Goodrich, 23, played the first 39 defensive snaps of his career in that game and was thrown into the fire against All-Pro Justin Jefferson.
“I thought [Goodrich] got better as the game progress,” Eagles defensive coordinator Sean Desai said.
Covey, 26, has been the Eagles punt returner for the first two games of the 2023 season after holding that position as a rookie in 2022. But for the Patriots game and the Vikings game, Covey was an elevation from the practice squad. The Eagles used two of his three elevations this season in the first two weeks.
For the Monday night game in Tampa, the Eagles will need to elevate their new punter Braden Mann from the practice squad but will be able to elevate someone else if they choose.
Covey through two games has averaged 10.7 yards per punt return, which ranks 9th in the league through just two weeks. That’s better than his 9.3 average from his rookie season. But Covey did muff a punt that was luckily recovered by the Eagles against the Vikings.
“It’s one of those things where we never want to have the ball on the ground, but we still have confidence in Covey to (not) do that,” Eagles special teams coordinator Michael Clay said. “I actually just spent an hour and we watched every return that he’s had here and just talked about different situations, went around the group and everything.
“Just having the confidence in Covey to do it. He can still gash you for a few yards. You saw in that New England game, he had a 25-yard return. People still do have to worry about him back there. It’s nice having Covey.”
When asked where Covey has improved most during their time together, Clay pointed at Covey’s understanding of NFL game speed. Returns that would have gained big yards in college are sometimes bottled up in the NFL. Clay explained the a horizontal return that would have gained 15 yards in college could be a 4-yard return in the NFL.
There’s no doubt that Covey got better in the second half of his rookie season and he had a nice 27-yard return in the Super Bowl.
“Just like anything else,” Clay said, “the more time on task, the better you’re going to get at it, the more familiar you’re going to get at it.”
Koback, the new practice squad running back, went undrafted out of Toledo in 2022. The 25-year-old spent his rookie season on the Vikings’ practice squad. This summer, Koback was with the Seahawks and spent a few days on their practice squad before being released on Sept. 4.
Koback (6-0, 210) had his best college season in 2021, when he rushed 208 times for 1,400 yards and 15 touchdowns. He finished his career fourth all-time in rushing for the Rockets with 4,026 yards.