Former University of Utah receiver and current Philadelphia Eagles’ return specialist Britain Covey became the NFL’s punt return leader on Sunday.
His three returns for 38-yards Sunday leapfrogged him over Cincinnati Bengals’ returner Charlie Jones to lead the league in punt return yards, according to Fox Sports.
But his title might not last long — he’s only leading Jones by one yard — because he entered the NFL’s concussion protocol on Monday after sustaining a head injury during the Eagles’ win over the Washington Commanders Sunday, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
From being released to being a league leader
The Eagles released Covey during the offseason and signed him to the practice squad after he cleared waivers. He was elevated for the first two games of the season and was then signed to the 53-man roster on Sept. 20.
“(Getting released) was extremely disappointing,” he told Eagles reporter Owen Boyle. “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.”
Last season, the undrafted free agent finished in the NFL’s top 10 for number of punt returns and punt return yards, according to Pro-Football Reference. He also returned a pivotal punt for 27 yards during the Super Bowl.
Here are Covey’s key stats from the 2022 season, according to NFL.com.
• 33 punt returns (tied for 2nd most in the NFL).
• 308 punt return yards (8th).
• 3 punt returns of 20 or more yards.
• Season-long punt return: 27 yards.
What do Eagles coaches think of Britain Covey?
Covey’s efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. He earned praise from his head coach, Nick Sirianni, after his NFL career-best 52-yard punt return against the Buccaneers on Sept. 25.
“We know we have maybe a hidden gem that not everybody always fully appreciates,” Sirianni told reporters last week, per the Eagles. “I am so glad he is our punt returner. Man, he is a great, great punt returner. You saw that in college.”
Utah’s premier punt returner
As a Ute, Covey returned 92 punts for 1,092 yards, according to Sports-Reference. His final collegiate season was his best, and he racked up 427 yards — which was fewer than 100 yards shy of his receiving yards total that season — on 29 punt returns in 2021.
He returned four punts for touchdowns during his collegiate career, including a 78-yard touchdown return against Oregon in 2021.
At the conclusion of his final season in Utah, he ranked No. 1 in the country in punt return yards and No. 3 in yards per punt return (14.7 yards) among punt returners with at least 12 returns, according to 247 Sports. He also led the nation in return yards over expected — the number of yards over what you’d expect from an average returner — and added yards.
What are football fans saying about Britain Covey?
Covey hasn’t always been a favorite of Eagles fans, especially after moments like his Sept. 14 fumble. But his stats and Week 3 performance on Sept. 25 won him some fans.
Here are some of the best reactions to Covey this season posted on X, formerly known as Twitter:
Britain Covey has been a solid returner. He’s gonna take 1 back this year.— mj (@THEmj_naval) October 1, 2023
If Britain covey houses one this season I’ll tattoo 18 on me— screech (@savedbyscreech1) October 1, 2023
I just want to formally apologize to Britain Covey, Mr. & Mrs. Covey, & the whole extended Covey family.— GhostFace Twittaaaaa (@DopeBlkness) September 28, 2023
My former comments (during preseason & up until kickoff), of wanting off the team, were wrong. & in no way, shape, or form reflect the man I am today. I have since grown. pic.twitter.com/nm4mof0T9M