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'No Pressure, No Diamonds': Christian Covington Describes the Chargers' Approach to Having High Expectations

Christian Covington and the Chargers are embracing the lofty expectations for the 2022 season.

When the Chargers finished the 2021 season missing out on the playoffs, they were arguably the best team to not reach the postseason. Their offense finished top five in many statistical categories, but the defensive unit largely held them back.

But the defense this season should be much different. The Chargers assembled a full-court press to improve the defensive unit that finished last season allowing the third-most points per game. They added coveted stars through the trade market and in free agency, including pass-rusher Khalil Mack, cornerback J.C. Jackson, linebacker Kyle Van Noy and others that figure to solidify starting roles for the season ahead.

Depth was put into question last year, but following free agency and the draft, where the Chargers made eight selections, the team has positioned themselves much better this season to get through the gauntlet of a 17-game season.

Christian Covington, who the Chargers signed last year, was re-signed at the beginning of free agency for a second season back in Los Angeles. Covington says he was confident he'd be back with the team despite hitting free agency. Now, in year two with the Chargers, he'll play a role in uplifting the defensive front from where it finished in 2021.

Oct 17, 2021; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Christian Covington (95) takes a moment in the end zone before the game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

“Honestly, this is a team where I knew when I first got here last year that I wanted to be back," Covington said. "Especially dealing with the type of guys that we have in the locker room, dealing with this coaching staff. I knew that we were building something special. Obviously, for it to work out for me to be able to come back — it’s something that hasn’t happened since my early years in Houston, to be back with the same team. 

"It’s really a blessing. I love this team. I love what these guys are doing to be able to put us in the best position to be able to be successful this upcoming season. Shoot, you’ve seen what we did with these guys that we’ve added on defense. I’m excited as ever, man.”

The most notable flaw on defense last year – which figures to show some level of improvement this season from the new players brought in – was their deficiencies in stopping the run. They allowed an average of 138 yards per game, the third-most in the NFL.

Covington, who will find himself aiding support to the middle of the defensive line, says he's confident that their run-stopping efforts will take steps of improvement moving forward.

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“The amount of talent that we’ve added is only going to help this team," Covington said regarding the run defense. "It starts upfront with the defensive line. The kind of guys that we’ve added with their skill level is tremendous, but the type of guys that we’ve added from a personal level is only going to help us better as a team. 

"We’re on the same page. We know what we’re going to do. All of that comes into play to be successful whether dealing with the passing game or the running game. With the guys that we’ve added, we know we’re going to get things squared away.”

Aug 28, 2021; Seattle, Washington, USA; Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Christian Covington (95) stands on the sideline against the Seattle Seahawks during the first quarter at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The notable signings the Chargers made doesn’t come full circle without expectations immediately increasing. When asked how they're handling the expectations, Covington pointed to the team's confidence in why he sees them living up to the billing.

“No pressure, no diamonds," he said, implying that if a team doesn’t have expectations, they’re probably not a Super Bowl-caliber team. "It’s that simple. We know what’s at stake. We know the type of guys that they’ve brought in. There’s an expected level that the outside world is expecting them to be able to perform on the field, but everybody that I’ve been able to come across this offseason so far, they hold themselves to that level."

Covington appeared in 16 games games last season, making three starts. He registered 52 tackles, three for loss, one sack and one fumble. His contributions predominantly offered support in stopping the run. But Covington has ambitions to flash more production from a pass-rushing standpoint. 

"I just want to be able to do what I can with the pass rush, honestly," he said. "I had one sack last year – not good enough for me. I want to be able to, obviously, contribute in any way I can to help this defense be successful and help this team win games."

Covington will join Sebastian Joseph-Day, Austin Johnson, Otito Ogbonnia, Jerry Tillery and others from the interior alignment of the defensive line.

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Nick Cothrel is the publisher of Charger Report. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickCothrel for more Chargers coverage.