The Philadelphia Eagles took three weeks to promote Britain Covey to the active roster last season. They did that one week earlier this year with Covey, promoting the punt returner to the active roster after moving Avonte Maddox to injured reserve. Maddox is expected to miss the rest of the season with a torn pectoral muscle suffered in Thursday's win over the Minnesota Vikings.
Covey has been one of the game's better punt returners since the end of last season, and has continued that pace through the first two games in 2023. He's averaging 10.7 yards per punt return on three returns, good for eighth in the NFL. He also has one fumble.
In his rookie season, Covey finished with 33 punt returns for 308 yards. His 33 returns were second in the NFL and his 9.3 average was eighth. Among players who had 10-plus punt returns in the NFL from Week 8 to the end of the regular season, Covey was sixth in the NFL in punt return average at 11.6.
The Eagles are moving forward with Covey as the punt returner, and eventually were going to promote him when his practice squad promotion eligibility ran out after three games. This was all part of the roster gymnastics Eagles general manager Howie Roseman used when finalizing his initial 53-man roster three weeks ago.
The team planned to move Covey to the active roster at some point; it just happened to be a week earlier in the wake of the Maddox injury.
A new punter
The Eagles released punter Arryn Siposs from the practice squad earlier this week, signing Braden Mann to replace Siposs on the practice squad. Mann is the punter for the time being, after being the New York Jets punter the past three seasons.
Mann averaged a career-high 46.9 yards per punt and 40.8 net yards per punt, ranking 17th in gross punting average and 20th in net punting average. This is an upgrade over Siposs, who was 30th in net punting average (38.6) and 26th in gross punting average (45.6). Siposs was 27th in gross punting average (43.4) and 22nd in net punting average (38.4) through the first two games.
"After two weeks, we decided we wanted to make a change," Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni said. "Arryn has been a great teammate to his teammates. He's been spot-on as a holder. Right now, at this particular time, we just thought what was in the best interest for the team was to move forward with Braden.
"Obviously, Braden has tape out there that we paid a lot of attention to, which got him to where we brought him into punt. We liked his punts when he was here, and his holds and everything, so we were confident in the decision for that to happen now.
"We have a little bit of a longer week to make sure the operation is clean, and so that's why it is the way it is right now."
Mann will also be the holder for Jake Elliott, as Eagles special teams coach Michael Clay revealed Mann held for Elliott during Eagles offseason workouts.
Who replaces Maddox?
With Maddox going on injured reserve, the Eagles are significantly thin at slot cornerback. Maddox and Zech McPhearson have experienced season-ending injuries over the past month, leading to Mario Goodrich earning a roster spot.
Will Goodrich be the starting slot cornerback going forward?
"We feel like we have good in-house options there," Sirianni said. "We'll miss his [Maddox] contributions as a teammate and on the field, but we like some of our options. This is the benefit of Howie [Roseman] and his staff building depth."
Sirianni continued: "That is our job as coaches to make sure we have options with the depth that we have, and we feel comfortable with that."
Goodrich will be the top option in the slot, but the Eagles lack significant depth there. The Eagles did have James Bradberry play some reps in the slot during training camp, but that was matchup-based for certain receivers (think Travis Kelce).
"I think there is a mystery of unknown that [the Buccaneers] slot receivers will have to prepare for," Sirianni said. "I will say we feel like we have really good options there. We've worked with many different guys, not just James, but many different guys right there."
The Eagles did work out William Jackson on Tuesday, per the NFL transaction wire. They signed one of the six players they worked out Tuesday to the practice squad, running back Bryant Koback, a former undrafted rookie free agent who was on the Seattle Seahawks in the preseason and spent the 2022 season on the Minnesota Vikings practice squad.