Christian Covington had more than just simple nerves Saturday night in the Texans 23-10 win over the 49ers.
He admited he may have been hyperventilating in his first NFL preseason game.
"Just rookie jitters, first series jitters really," Covington said. "My heart was pounding after that first series so everybody was telling me to take deep breaths, calm down, and play football. That is all I needed."
Covington, the sixth-round draft pick from Rice, settled down and was able to put into action what he'd been practicing all camp long. O'Brien likes the potential he sees in the 21-year-old defensive tackle from Vancouver.
"I thought that Christian, just like I have been saying about everybody out there, there were some plays that they wish they could have back, but Christian plays hard," O'Brien said Sunday. "He has got a lot of technique that he needs to improve upon, but he plays hard, he is on his feet, he is not on the ground a lot, which is a good thing for a rookie defensive lineman. He has got some instincts in there and is a smart kid. I think just because of his work ethic he will improve."
Head coach Bill O'Brien didn't notice Covington's initial nerves in the game, but wasn't surprised either. It's a normal reaction for rookies in their first NFL action.
"You can only imagine how excited they are to play in a game," O'Brien said. "It is a preseason game, but look, they are going out there for the first time. It is like I said to a couple of those guys, I think I said to Kevin Johnson, 'This isn't Duke you are playing against. This is the San Francisco 49ers.' So I am sure he (Covington) was revved up and ready to go."
After a knee injury cut his 2014 season short, Covington opted to enter the NFL Draft. He was the first interior defensive lineman drafted from Rice since Cornelius Walker in 1976.
View photos from the 49ers-Texans game at NRG Stadium on August 15th.