DeSean Jackson, Brian Westbrook, Britain Covey.
This isn't one of those "Which one doesn't belong?" questions. That's truly the company Covey deserves to be in.
The 26-year-old Covey has become of the best punt returners in Eagles history and one of the best in the NFL, and it’s hard to imagine where the Eagles would be without him.
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“What a weapon,” Nick Sirianni said after the Eagles hung on to beat the Giants Monday. “Do you all have votes for the Pro Bowl? Vote for that guy. Who is returning the ball better than him? Who is a better punt returner in the NFL than Britain Covey?”
Statistically, there are a couple guys with higher averages, but Covey’s impact has been enormous.
His career-long 54-yarder down to the Giants’ 13-yard line just a minute and a half into the game Monday set up the Eagles’ first touchdown and wound up being a huge play in a game where the Eagles needed every point they could muster up.
That was the Eagles’ longest punt return since a Jalen Reagor 73-yard TD in 2020, and Covey became the first Eagle with two 50-yarders in a season since Darren Sproles in 2015.
His 54-yarder Monday came after the Eagles held the Giants 3-and-out on their first drive. He fielded a Jamie Gillan punt at the Eagles’ 32, dashed past Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin at the 40 and then busted out of a Dane Belton tackle around the 45 and darted past a wall of Giants defenders — Nick McCloud, Daniel Bellinger, Coughlin, long snapper Casey Kreiter — and into the open field.
Covey picked up steam angling toward the right sideline, out-running a Giants chase group that included Belton, Coughlin and Bellinger. A group of Giants — Jashaun Corbin, Coughlin and Bellinger — finally surrounded Covey around the 23-yard-line, but he somehow slipped through them and resumed his dash down the sideline another 10 yards before Cam Brown finally knocked him out of bounds at the 13.
“You know, I'm going to be honest, once I passed the punter, I knew I probably wasn't scoring,” Covey said. “If I had maybe 5 or 10 more pounds I might be able to muscle my way in there, but I'm like 170.”
With two games left, Covey leads the NFC at 14.6 yards per return. He’s third in the league, behind Marvin Mims of the Broncos (17.4) and Derius Davis of the Chargers (16.2).
His 14.6 mark is 3rd-highest in franchise history, behind Brian Westbrook’s 15.3 in 2003 and DeSean Jackson’s 15.2 in 2009. His career average is now up to 11.8, which is 4th-highest in Eagles history – behind Ernie Steele (14.7) and Steve Van Buren (13.9) from the 1940s and Westbrook (12.8).
His 11.8 career average is also 5th-highest in NFL history by an undrafted player, and his 14.6 is 5th-highest in a single season by an undrafted player.
It took Covey a while to win over Eagles fans, but anybody who watches him make plays week after week has to realize by now what a weapon he is.
He leads the NFL with 13 returns of 15 yards or more and his 22 returns of at least 15 yards since his NFL debut on opening day last year are also most in the league.
“He changes games,” Sirianni said. “That first one after the defense gets a big stop and then Britain coming and doing what he did, he's a special returner. He has turned himself into a very special football player who's a weapon for us.
“I haven't seen anybody play better than him and return the ball better than him. He's a stud.”
Covey also picked up his first career reception, a seven-yarder from Jalen Hurts in the first quarter on a field goal drive. Covey had 184 receptions for over 2,000 yards at Utah so he can catch the football.
But he’s played only 44 offensive snaps in 35 career games, so his opportunities are few and far between.
“I don't view myself as a punt returner who plays receiver, I view myself as a receiver who plays punt returner, so it's nice to get the first one,” he said.
“We've had packages in for me for the whole year. I just feel like with the situations of the games, we never quite get to them. And so I'm always here on the sideline.
“But we’ve got a great receiver room, so I’m going to do my role as a punt returner, own it, obsess over it, help the guys on the unit, and then just give the coaches confidence that I can come in and help on the offensive side, whatever role that is.”