Thursdays might very well be Aaron Moorehead’s favorite day at the office.
Because that’s the practice day when the Eagles work most on punt returns, which means the Eagles wide receivers coach has a very important job: Throwing things at the Eagles’ returners in an attempt to break their focus.
“You see Aaron throw cones, bags, shields at them just to get them to not concentrate on the ball,” Eagles special teams coordinator Michael Clay said.
Good luck breaking Britain Covey’s focus.
On Sunday in the opener, the undrafted rookie was elevated from the practice squad to return punts and did so with the poise of a veteran. The most impressive play from Covey was a fair catch with Zach Pascal in his lap.
It could have been a disaster but Covey — ho hum — brought it in seamlessly.
“It was pretty impressive for a young cat like Britain,” Clay said.
Covey’s numbers as a returner in this game weren’t all that impressive. He retuned 2 punts for 13 yards with a long of 11. And he also had two fair catches.
So not exactly the type of game-breaking plays we sometimes saw from him at Utah, although those might be on the way. But the great thing about watching Covey return punts in the opener was just how smooth he looked, how comfortable the Eagles can feel that when he’s back there, that he won’t screw it up.
“He's cool, calm, and collected,” Clay said. “It's like having a veteran out there. He catches it, gets downhill. He's very talkative on the sideline with guys on the punt return team, with myself, what he's seeing right there. Going against who I arguably think, I think (Lions punter) Jack Fox is one of the better punters in the league. He was hitting balls up there I've never seen before. But he didn't bat an eye, caught it, was smooth.”
Covey didn’t break one on Sunday, but he did show a little juice. Take a look at his 11-yard return. There’s something there.
At Utah, Covey returned a total of 92 punts, averaging 11.9 yards per return and took 4 to the house. He also returned 33 kicks, averaging 25.4 yards per return and 1 touchdown.
The Eagles on Sunday had Quez Watkins returning kicks and he didn’t look nearly as natural. Perhaps, we’ll see Covey in that role too as the season progresses.
Because he was elevated for Sunday’s game, Covey isn’t even on the Eagles’ 53-man roster yet. But that seems like a matter of time. The punt returner job is a really important one and Covey is clearly the best option they have.
The Eagles really struggled in the return game last season. Jalen Reagor was their primary returner and was 17th in punt return average and 27th in kick return average.
Covey looks like a clear upgrade. The 25-year-old rookie showed tremendous poise on Sunday. It stood out to everyone who watched.
“To be honest with you guys,” Clay said. “I think it is somewhat rare to have a guy with that type of composure right there that he'd be back there knowing there are some guys flying at him. To stay even keeled throughout the entire thing and take what he can in certain spots, but also trust in the other 10 guys to block for him.”
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