During the course of last week, Jordan Kovacs noticed that more people in the workplace were paying attention to him.
As part of the Miami Dolphins’ practice squad, the safety from Curtice was working primarily with the special teams unit. He took a mental note of the number of reps he had taken with the special teams. He found himself in the midst of more exchanges with the coaches, and he realized something: His goal of making an NFL roster was close.
On Saturday, Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland took Kovacs aside to break the news: The Dolphins were promoting him to their 53-man roster for the next day’s game against Baltimore.
“We signed the papers and made it official,” said Kovacs, who was a safety at Michigan and a captain in 2012. “I’d told some good friends, ‘Well, I might have a shot at making it,’ but I didn’t want to tell anyone until I signed the paperwork.”
Kovacs made his NFL debut Sunday in Miami’s 26-23 loss to Baltimore at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., and he recorded a tackle on the kickoff return team. Instead of just being inside of a stadium as a spectator or as a part-time employee, Kovacs was on the sidelines for the Dolphins against the reigning Super Bowl champions.
“My goal going into the game was not to let the game be too big for me,” Kovacs said. “I wanted to be able to take it play by play, and to focus on my task each play, and to follow my assignment. I had a few ‘welcome to the NFL’ moments, and everyone has those. But it was just fun to be out on the field, in a game for the first time this year.”
Kovacs signed with the Dolphins as an undrafted free agent in April, then made it to the final day of cuts during the preseason. When he didn’t make the 53-man roster, he was added to Miami’s practice squad.
“I had to overcome a lot of adversity and let the process play out,” Kovacs said. “That’s how I approached it at Michigan, too. First, it was going to be to pick a team [as an undrafted free agent], and that was Miami. Then I had the goal of making the 90-man roster, then making plays in the preseason and seeing how far that would take me.”
Kovacs is in his first days as a professional, but he’s set more goals in pursuit of an NFL career.
“My role is as a special teams player, and I knew that coming into the NFL,” Kovacs said. “That’s how you make a name for yourself, especially as an undrafted free agent. I’ve been open to making my role that, and making it to help the team better. I want to be one of the best special teams players on the team and even in the league, and that could open some doors.”
Kovacs isn’t ruling out a return to the position where he became a mainstay at Michigan. Versatility, he said, is an asset in the NFL.
“To keep my job secure, you’ve got to be flexible,” Kovacs said. “If a team needs me to play safety, I’d like to be able to step in and contribute right away.”