Tag Archives: tnt texans

Covington, Christian

Cards: Leaf 2015, TNT Texans, Upper Deck 2015, Upper Deck Star Rookies 2015, Memorabilia
Acquired: 2017, EBay, 2017 Texans Stampede Tour

Christian Covington comes from strong bloodlines, as his father was a HoF member of the Canadian Football League. Christian went collegiately to Rice, a school known more for its academics than football prestige. Christian made an immediate impact at defensive tackle for the Owls in 2012, closing out his Freshman year with 43 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, and a forced fumble.  Getting onto the radar of coaches and the media in 2013, Christian posted 4 sacks, 11.5 tackles for loss, and 59 tackles. He’d be a first team all Conference USA selection as he rotated in also at NT and DE. A big fan of former Rice Owl and Texan ND Kalu, Covington switched his jersey number from 56 to 1 before the 2014 season. Landing on the watch list of many publications and honors before the year began, Covington suffered through an injury marred campaign. He’d declare for the NFL draft and be selected by the Houston Texans during the compensatory selection phase of the 6th round of the 2015 NFL draft. The selection probably broke the hearts of many CFL fans who hoped that the Vancouver, Canada native would not be drafted and slip into the CFL Draft.

Used sparingly over his rookie season, Covington spelled Big Vince at NT. He’d suit up for 15 games and make 8 total tackles and 2 sacks. His first career sack couldn’t come at a better time. With the Texans coming off a bye at 3-5, they’d face an undefeated Bengals team in Cincinnati. With all of the pundits backing the Bengals, the Texans played their most lights out defensive effort of the year. While the offense sputtered to 10 points, the defense held the high flying Bengals to just 2 field goals. During that game Christian notched his first sack of his career- a ferocious takedown of Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. After the game nearly all the ESPN commentators, ate a fair amount of crow. The game served notice as the Texans went 6-3 down the stretch to take the division crown and secure a playoff berth.

In 2016, the Texans lost All-Star defender JJ Watt for the majority of the season so Houston had to reshuffle the deck on their defensive line. Covington kicked out to defensive end replacing departed Jared Crick, and finished with 26 tackles and a sack in 5 starts. The Texans defense was brutal. I actually found myself excited when they’d take the field- perhaps maybe because the offense was so anemic. Houston finished with the overall #1 defense for the first time in franchise history.

I met Christian and Andre Hal at the Texans 2017 Stampede Tour at 3rd Base in South Austin. The players were extremely cordial, and they both really liked their cards a lot. When I told Christian I’d forgive him for the card in his Rice uniform- he stopped me and asked me where I went to school. When I told him I grew up here in Austin so I naturally bled burnt orange- he rolled his eyes and told me that his mom really wanted him to go to UT.  Andre continued to heckle him. Taking one last look at his Upper Deck card, Christian lamented about how much he missed that face mask. He thanked me for the cards, and I thanked him for that first sack he made in that Bengals game.

During the 2017 season, the Texans went backwards. A combination of injury and a new defensive coordinator, possibly doomed the defense and the team out the door.  Covington too was bit by the injury bug and played in only 7 games. He finished the 2017 campaign with 16 tackles (6 assists) and a sack.

The Texans have been quite kind to the Rice Owls. In addition to Covington,  ND Kalu played for the Texans during his career, and the Texans also selected TE James Casey back in 2009.

I think after this year I’ll retire this particular design of TNT cards. Design tires with age, even if we yearn for a certain look year over year. Still it is a nice photo of Christian I was able to secure for the card.  I absolutely love the Leaf certified card. The autograph is framed very nicely on the canvas and shows up very well. On that note I must mention how I detest exclusive autograph only cards in sets as I much prefer to hunt for autographs, than just buy them. Still this one came at a very cheap price along with the Upper Deck Star Rookies card that I wanted to have him autograph. The Star Rookies card was a bit ugly. I mean it’s original looking in its execution, but I can’t stand it when designers place type along a half circle and the stretched stars on either side made me feel like I was looking at a retired state flag.  I appreciate the hand out that the team gave to fans. It’s a clean canvas with plenty of white space for the image to breathe on, however I think it maybe a bit too much. While the autograph activates the canvas, some other element could’ve been used to help frame it better and hold the eye inside the page.

Hal, Andre

Card: Panini Instant 2016 (1/64), TNT Texans, Memorabilia
Acquired: In Person, 2017 Houston Texans Stampede Tour

Andre Hal played for Vanderbilt from 2010 to 2013 at cornerback and on special teams as a returner.  His best year came in his Senior campaign in 2013 when he earned Second Team All-SEC Honors with 3 interceptions, 49 tackles, and 18 passes defensed. With his fleet speed and athleticism, Andre had the chops to play in a man-cover system, on special teams, and possesses solid intangibles.

He’d be there in the 7th round for the Texans to select him in 2014. Looking back, not only is Hal turning out to be a true diamond in the rough, it was a no-brainer for the Texans to select him for their well trained secondary.  As the preseason continued Hal made enough of an impression to make the squad, despite the Texans impressive depth chart. He finished his rookie season with 15 tackles and 4 passes defensed at cornerback.

The Texans had a need at safety.  They had tried platoons and the fiasco that was Ed Reed in the previous years.  Hal just wanted to contribute any way he could. He made his first career 2 career interceptions against Jacksonville in Week 6, taking one 31 yards to the house and spurring the team to a 34-20 win.  He finished the year with 4 interceptions for 54 yards with that TD, 10 passes defensed, and 34 tackles, playing all over the field from linebacker to both safety positions over 11 starts. Andre returned for 2016 as the starter at free safety.  Again through 11 starts, Andre had 2 interceptions for 36 yards, 7 passes defensed, his first career sack, and 46 tackles for the NFL’s leading defensive unit.

Andre appeared at the Texans Stampede Tour in 2017 alongside Christian Covington. He was more than eager to get his own card, signing everything I had and the Texans handout for me. I told him that I expected another pick for a  TD against the Jaguars to which he shook my hand and exclaimed, “My man! He knows!”

I was willing to pay a premium to get a card- any card of Andre’s for this event. As it stands outside of a Leaf 2014 certified autograph, there were no base cards of Hal made- and despite his performance in the secondary, he’s never registered on a Topps or Score card. I payed a fat premium to get this Panini Instant card of him. It’s a nice card, but very basic, and way too many logos for my liking- even if they are balanced on both sides. My thought is that the logos should go down the left side of the card. This would make them appear as badges. Also this card is an error card. By the point this card was issued in 2016, Hal was exclusively playing free safety (FS).

Hal’s autograph is a unique spin on an otherwise exhausted signature. Most players who have an ‘A’ to start their name overdo the size or turn it into a star, but in Andre’s case he cleverly centers it to cross through his first and last name.

Grimes, Jonathan

Card: TNT Texans Custom
Acquired: 2016, Houston Texans Academy Liberty White Stampede Tour

One of my old collecting friends from ‘back in the day’ of the Fanmail website was a broadcaster for the Old Dominion Monarchs team. Grimes was head and shoulders above the competition coming out of William & Mary and dominated the competition.  My friend told me that Jonathan Grimes was THE man, and was a solid free agent signee by the Texans.

Grimes made the roster in 2012, and toiled away on the team’s practice squad.  Other teams coveted him, and he did not stay on the PS for long with the Jets signing him and putting him to limited work as a 3rd down back. The Jets cut him in October of that season.

As the Texans descended into chaos, during Gary Kubiak‘s final season with injuries hitting the Texans’ RB corps of Arian Foster and Ben Tate, Grimes found himself back with the team and was elevated to play on special teams.  He’d eventually finish his whirlwind tour on the roster of the Jaguars by the end of the season.

Cut in August of 2013 by Jacksonville, Grimes returned to the Texans for the 3rd time after Ben Tate was placed on IR.  He scored his first professional TD against the Titans.  He’d finish the season with 73 yards on 23 carries and 6 receptions for 76 yards. Since that time, HC Bill O’Brien has found a way to keep Grimes on the roster.

In 2014, Jonathan ran for 153 yards on 39 carries as he began to settle in as a 3rd down/ change of pace runningback for the franchise.  As injuries finally caught up to Arian Foster in 2015, Grimes saw his workload increase. He put in a career high 282 yards on 56 carries, and 26 receptions for 173 yards, scoring a TD rushing and receiving in the same game.

Despite not playing as much in 2016 due to the signing of new bell cow back Lamar Miller, Grimes proved to be an invaluable change of pace back, pulling out some key first downs in some critical games. He rushed 23 times for 105 yards and caught 13 balls for 94 yards.

I created this card of Jonathan, knowing that he and DB Quentin Demps were going to be at a local Academy signing autographs. Jonathan really liked the card and was touched by my kind efforts. Afterwards I talked to one of the PR honchos for the Texans that also liked my work and gave me his business card, but I was really intimidated to contact him back- something that is still on my list.