The Dallas Cowboys signed former Houston Texans defensive lineman Christian Covington Thursday.
The former Rice Owl has been a rotational player for the Texans since arriving as a sixth-round pick in 2015. In some ways, Covington is the perfect toady. Playing on a defensive line that featured three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt and three-time Pro Bowler Jadeveon Clowney, the only time Covington had the onus was in 2016-17 when Watt was battling through consecutive season-ending injuries. In 2018, when Watt was healthy and so was Clowney, watch out.
Covington played in 12 games for Houston last season and started in two of them. The Vancouver, British Columbia, native racked up a career-high 3.5 sacks and tied his career-high with four tackles for loss. According to Pro Football Reference, he also set a new career-high in quarterback hits with eight.
"I think he’s taking advantage of opportunities and he’s gotten better every year that he’s been here," said Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel on Jan. 2. "He’s a good teammate, a good pro and he works at his craft. I think that helps him be able to make those plays when they come along.”
One of the best examples of Covington taking advantage of opportunities was on Nov. 26, 2018, versus the Tennessee Titans on Monday Night Football. Covington worked the Titans offensive line and took down quarterback Marcus Mariota for 2.5 sacks on the evening along with four tackles and two tackles for loss. Watt collected 1.5 sacks, a tackle for loss, and a forced fumble. Because he was a more recognizable name, he won that week's AFC Defensive Player of the Week award. However, even Watt knew who he had to thank.
"I appreciate [winning the award]," Watt told reporters on Nov. 28. "I’ll say I’ll split the award with Cov (Christian Covington) this week. I think he deserves a lot of credit. He had a hell of a game. I told him, ‘you can have half of the fake award that we don’t get,’ but he had a hell of a game.”
Texans coach Bill O'Brien was asked on Nov. 29 what Covington had done to play his best game of the season. The former New England Patriots offensive coordinator summarized it perfectly. When Watt, Clowney, and outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus are healthy, there aren't enough bodies to go around, leaving many one-on-one opportunities.
Said O'Brien: "I know how hard that is when we go against great fronts. We go against great fronts. It’s very difficult when they have more than one guy. So, I think Christian took advantage [versus the Titans] and played probably his best football game to this point. Christian’s really, really taken the coaching to heart and he’s really improved."
Covington had great coaching with Crennel and defensive line coach Anthony Weaver. Just think of what he will be able to do with Rod Marinelli and Leon Lett. In addition to taking coaching to heart, Covington has a great work ethic, which makes for being one of those "right kind of guys."
"He works hard," said Clowney. "He works extremely hard. He comes to work every day, puts his head down and grinds. Comes out here and it’s showing on the field. Just keep coming.”
Covington won't "keep coming" in Houston, but now upstate on I-45 in the Metroplex. The Cowboys still have to solve their pass rush problems with the DeMarcus Lawrence franchise tag and the Randy Gregory suspension. However, if the Cowboys can create one-on-one opportunities for Covington, he is the perfect role player to take advantage of them.
Are you a fan of the signing of Christian Covington by the Cowboys? Do you think they still have moves to make on the defensive line? Share your thoughts with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.