With the exit of Jared Crick this past offseason, all of the attention turned to who was going to be the starter at the defensive end spot opposite of J.J. Watt. Through the first two preseason games, it is clear that second year player Christian Covington is pulling ahead for those snaps. The late round pick out of Rice University last season was coming back from a knee injury that dropped his draft stock. The Texans brass worked Covington out and felt confident he had what it took to make an impact on the team.
With the skill set to play both the 5-technique in the defense's base 3-4 and the 3-technique in nickel and dime situations, Covington is in line to play a good amount of snaps in 2016. Through two games this preseason, Covington has accumulated 6 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 2 quarterback hits, 1 sack, and a forced fumble from the interior of the defense. He can also help in a pinch at nose tackle but it is clear that he gives the Texans their best run-pass defender from the trenches with Watt out.
“I came here wanting to be able to do what was asked of me, play whatever position was asked of me,” said Covington. “The fact that they made the switch to defensive end this year, it’s more opportunity for me to be able to be more versatile, to be able to play along the entire defensive line.”
Covington was given the opportunity to move to defensive end which required him to bulk up in muscle and, most importantly, hit the playbook to know his assignments.
“Playing our nose position is very simple, whereas as soon as you move to the defensive end spot, a lot more responsibilities, a lot more adjustments and things that need to be keyed in order to be able to do your job correctly,” explained Covington.
When the tape is flipped on, Covington has that relentless pursuit of the football and he has shown he has a good grasp of what is asked of him. He took it upon himself to show who he truly is with Watt out with his back issue and he is solidifying his spot as a key rotational piece.
“When you have a guy like J.J. (Watt) down, it’s always been brought to our attention that the next man has to stand up,” said Covington. “For me, coming into this training camp, that’s what I wanted to do.”
That is exactly what he has done: interjected life into a defensive line that needed it.