Homegrown NFL vet Christian Covington headlines B.C. Lions’ new-look starting lineup

Photo courtesy: Tiffany Luke /B.C. Lions

The B.C. Lions will debut 10 new starters when they open their season on Sunday night, including homegrown NFL veteran Christian Covington.

The 30-year-old Vancouver native will draw his first CFL start at defensive tackle after joining the team in May following a nine-year run in the NFL. He was a sixth-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft out of Rice University and dressed for 102 games as a member of the Houston Texans, Dallas Cowboys, Cincinnati Bengals, and Los Angeles Chargers.

The son of Canadian Football Hall of Famer Grover Covington recorded 196 total tackles, 19 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, and two pass knockdowns while in the NFL.

Covington will fill the ratio slot vacated by Most Outstanding Defensive Player Mathieu Betts while fellow Canadian defensive tackle Nathan Cherry begins the year on the six-game injured list while recovering from a torn ACL suffered last year. Free agent acquisition Pete Robertson will also make his debut at defensive end, while playoff standout Josh Woods becomes the full-time starter at middle linebacker and bumps Canadian Ben Hladik to the weak side.

The team will have a distinctly new look in the secondary, with boundary cornerback Garry Peters the lone player remaining in his usual spot. B.C. will start Canadians Adrian Greene at safety and Patrice Rene at strong-side linebacker, while the units regular SAM, Emmanuel Rugamba, moves to boundary halfback to replace the injured T.J. Lee (Achilles). Veteran free agent Ciante Evans will play field half and rookie Jordan Perryman will get his first start at the wide-side corner.


Offensively, the biggest changes come in the receiving corps, which will be without all-star Keon Hatcher (Achilles) for the foreseeable future. Second-year man Ayden Eberhardt, who caught five passes for 69 yards in two appearances, will take control of one starting slot, while NFL journeyman Travis Fulgham makes his first CFL appearance at the other. The 28-year-old led the Philadelphia Eagles with 38 receptions for 539 yards and four touchdowns in 2020 and will look to bring that production north of the border.

Canadian David Knevel succeeded in securing the starting left guard spot through the preseason and will help pave the way for prized free agent running back William Stanback. The former Montreal Alouette rushed for 800 yards and two touchdowns in 2023, but will seek to get back into his thousand-yard form from 2019 and 2021 in a new uniform.

B.C. will also have a new face on special teams, as NFL veteran Kyle Nelson takes over long snapping duties. Last year’s snapper Riley Pickett remains on the roster and has been moved to backup fullback.

In addition to Cherry, Lee, and Hatcher, Canadian defensive lineman Francis Bemiy Jr. (hamstring) will also begin the year on the six-game injured list. Offensive linemen Chris Schleuger and George Una have been placed on the one-game injured list as healthy scratches.

The B.C. Lions (0-0) will visit the Toronto Argonauts (0-0) on Sunday, June 9 at BMO Field with kickoff slated for 7:00 p.m. EDT.

Graphic courtesy: B.C. Lions