Britain Covey doesn’t blame the security guards who turned him away from the players’ parking lot on Monday afternoon.
“They were just doing their job,” the Eagles rookie said.
The problem was that because the Eagles played on Monday Night Football, they didn’t elevate Covey until that afternoon and his practice squad parking pass wasn’t enough to get him into the players’ lot.
So Covey had a few choices. He thought about pulling up his roster photo. He thought about calling player resource coordinator Kathy Mair.
But ultimately, Covey accepted his fate and gracefully took directions from the same security guards who wouldn’t grant him access. He drove and parked in Lot O on the other side of Darien Street.
“So I went over there and parked with a bunch of tailgaters and had a good time,” Covey said. “I felt like John Stockton walking in Barcelona.”
Stockton famously roamed the streets in Barcelona during the 1992 Olympics, finding it way easier to blend in among the masses than his much more famous teammates. It’s a good comparison. At 5-8, 173 pounds, Covey is a pretty unassuming for an NFL player.
Eventually, a few fans did recognize the Eagles’ punt returner. So Covey stopped for at least one photo before his long walk from the lot into the Linc.
Despite the walk, Covey quite enjoyed parking in the tailgaters lot before his first NFL home game. He thinks he might even do it again.
“It’s kind of fun,” Covey said. “In college a lot of times, you walk through the fans and it kind of inspires you to remember where you come from, seeing those 12-year-olds throwing the football around. That was me. Maybe I’ll do that every time.”
The Eagles have elevated Covey in the first two weeks to start the season and can elevate him just once more based on current rules. But there’s a good chance he’ll eventually be added to the 53-man roster at some point anyway.
Covey, 25, was a dynamic return man at Utah, where he averaged 11.9 yards per punt return and 25.4 yards per kick return and took a total of 4 punts and 1 kick to the house.
Things haven’t gone quite as well in his first two NFL games. He made a few good plays in Week 1 but in Week 2 returned three punts for 14 yards and fair caught one in the Eagles’ 24-7 win over the Vikings.
“I’m not used to getting 1 or 2 yards on a return,” Covey said. “It bugs me more than anyone else in the crowd. Trust me. I’m excited to get back out there and, first and foremost, catch it and start getting my returns going. And I really believe we can.”
Covey said punt returns are really hard to simulate in practice without live reps so he’s getting a taste of the NFL in real time. The speed and skill of the league is apparent when they have a field return called because if there’s any delay in his decision, he can’t simply outrun opposing players. There are times, he said, where his best bet is to take it to the short side of the field and pick up 5 to 10 yards instead.
At least Covey is a pretty experienced return man. That helps. So too does his mentality. He aims to be extremely coachable and is ready to show his improvement.
If things go well for him in coming weeks, maybe he won’t have to try to talk his way into the players’ lot anymore.
He certainly wasn’t going hit the security guards with a … “Do you know who I am?”
“Well, I haven’t done much here so I don’t think I could pull that,” he said. “Maybe if we get a good punt return out there, we can pull that card. But not yet. I gotta keep that humility for a little while.”
And the smell of a charcoal grill never hurt anyone either.
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