|In second season, Tapp pushing for starting spot on Seattle's defensive line|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 15 August 2007 14:15|
For Darryl Tapp, it's just normal.
``I'm feeling really good,'' he says with a huge grin.
Now in his second season, the energetic and talented Seahawks defensive end is making a push to be one of the starters when Seattle opens its season against Tampa Bay on Sept. 9.
Coach Mike Holmgren essentially made the Seahawks' two defensive end spots an open competition between Tapp, Patrick Kerney and Bryce Fisher this week. Seattle guaranteed $19.5 million to Kerney in the offseason, making it unlikely the free agent acquisition from Atlanta won't start.
That leaves Fisher and Tapp to compete, although with Seattle's plan to rotate multiple players on the defensive line, whoever doesn't start will play plenty.
``They're all capable. Sometimes it's a little like a wide receiver thing. the third receiver could very well start for you, but you can only introduce two,'' Holmgren said. ``It's kind of like that. All three of them will play a lot.''
This time a year ago, the defensive end spots were solidified by the oft-injured Grant Wistrom and Fisher. Tapp, a second-round pick in 2006, was preparing to spend his first season playing on special teams and occasionally getting a chance in the rotation.
By the end of the season, Tapp had played in all 16 regular season games and both playoff contests. He recorded three sacks, forced a fumble and took his first career interception back for a touchdown against Denver in early December.
Tapp's development and the signing of Kerney made it possible for the Seahawks to release Wistrom in the offseason. And now, Tapp's pushing for a starting role.
``Of course, I'm an athlete,'' Tapp said when asked if he wants to start. ``But I care if we win. I care that we're one of the top defenses, if not the top defense in the NFL. So whoever they put out there on the field is going to make plays and I know I'm going to get my opportunity.''
Establishing a dominant pass rush is important for a Seattle team that led the league in sacks two years ago, then dropped to a tie for seventh last season. Outside linebacker Julian Peterson led the team with 10 sacks, but no other player had more than four.
Part of the reason - opponents taking notice of what Seattle did in 2005 during their NFC championship season. The drop in sacks also allowed quarterbacks more time to pick apart the Seahawks' secondary.
``Any way you cut it, the best pass defense is a good pass rush,'' Fisher said. ``Teams were max protecting against us more when they threw the ball. Teams knew they had to have more protections.''
Getting to the quarterback was never a problem for Tapp at Virginia Tech. He recorded 23 1/2 sacks in 53 games at Virginia Tech, including 10 in his senior campaign. But quickly in his rookie season, Tapp realized that his old moves wouldn't work against the talented, physical offensive tackles in the NFL.
So, he's adapted. In last Sunday's preseason opener against San Diego, Tapp recorded two sacks and forced a fumble. In practice on Wednesday, Tapp made tackle Floyd ``Pork Chop'' Womack completely whiff on a block with a head-fake that left an unobstructed path to the quarterback. Tapp celebrated with a leaping hip-bump into Kerney.
Yeah, Tapp is having fun.
``He's a guy that can just be a fly in an offense's ointment,'' Seattle defensive coordinator John Marshall said. ``He can really give you problems.''