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REDSKINS: It’s something old, new for Tapp

RICHMOND—Morning walkthrough had just wrapped up Wednesday at Washington Redskins training camp, and Darryl Tapp spotted a familiar face in the crowd as he made his way to the team’s locker room.

That has happened a lot recently for Tapp, a Portsmouth native who signed a one-year contract with the Redskins in March. From friends to old coaches and teammates, there’s been a lot of catching up for the former Virginia Tech standout who grew up a short drive from here.

“I had a teammate from high school here [Tuesday], a teammate from college the day before,” said Tapp, who had a nice chat Wednesday with a former high school coach he hadn’t seen in years. “My older brother and cousins and nieces have come out here, so it’s been a great thing to have people you respect and love come out here and watch you do something you love to do.”

Tapp, who is fighting for a roster spot at outside linebacker in the Redskins’ 3–4 defensive scheme, is thrilled to be playing close to home, and he’s energized to be a part of the team he’s loved for most of his life.

He was a big Redskins supporter as a youngster and maintained his fandom even as he suited up for the Seattle Seahawks and Philadelphia Eagles during his seven NFL seasons.

“I’ve always been a Redskins fan, even to this day,” said Tapp, 28. “Even when we played them, I was a Redskins fan.”

While he is excited to be a part of the Redskins organization, he still has to make the team at a position he has never played in his career.

Before joining the Redskins, the 6-foot-1, 270-pound Tapp, a second-round draft pick of the Seahawks in 2006, spent his entire playing career at defensive end. That is where he starred at Deep Creek High in Chesapeake and Virginia Tech, and he accumulated 24 sacks as a down lineman in his first seven seasons in the NFL, the last three in Philadelphia.

Now he must learn to play standing up.

As an outside linebacker in defensive coordinator Jim Haslett’s scheme, Tapp will be asked to rush the quarterback a lot. He’ll also be required to drop into pass coverage against opposing tight ends and running backs.

Tapp has been getting the hang of his new responsibilities, and he says he’s been happy with how he’s coming along.

“I’ve played a little bit of coverage, in space a little bit, but this is my first time really majoring in being an outside linebacker,” Tapp said. “Honestly, it hasn’t been bad. The biggest thing is understanding your coverage and where your help is when you’re in your coverage. Other than that, football is football.”

London Fletcher, the elder statesman of the Redskins linebacking corps, said he has been impressed by what he’s seen from Tapp in his first few practices.

“I think Darryl has done a great job of learning from Ryan [Kerrigan] and Rak [Brian Orakpo] and Rob Jackson and the coaching staff. He works hard,” Fletcher said. “The biggest adjustment for him is the coverage responsibilities, having to play in space more and things like that, and I think he’s done a good job with that.”

Tapp is listed as a backup at left outside linebacker behind Kerrigan, who led the Redskins with 8.5 sacks last season. With backups Jackson (four-game suspension) and Keenan Robinson (torn pectoral) out for the early part of the season, Tapp’s chances of making the team have improved.

But he’s still in a battle for a reserve spot. He feels good about his chances.

“There’s no pressure,” Tapp said. “Unless you’re RGIII [Robert Griffin III] on this team, you’re not guaranteed to make it, and that’s the way it is with each team in the NFL. You’ve got to come out here and perform. NFL stands for ‘Not For Long,’ so we’ve all got to put our best foot forward and put the best you’ve got on film and let the chips fall where they may.”

Tapp already has his Redskins teammates believing he can help them improve their inconsistent pass rush from last season.

“He’s versatile,” Kerrigan said. “He’s a guy that can beat you inside, beat you outside, and he’s physical, and that’s what this defense and our coaches like is physical pass rushers, and that’s what Darryl Tapp is.”

Nathan Warters: 540/374-5442



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