When asked for an assessment of how Brandon Graham has looked thus far in the Organized Team Activities, fellow defensive end Darryl Tapp lavished the former first-round draft pick with monumental praise.
"He looks like the Brandon that first came in here," Tapp said. "Brandon probably had the greatest training camp for a rookie that I've ever seen in my life. That first year he came in on fire, killing everybody in one-on-ones, giving great effort."
Graham did have a very promising rookie season that was cut short when he tore his ACL late in the year. He had 3.0 sacks and a pair of forced fumbles in 13 games (six starts). The 13th-overall pick of the 2010 draft earned All-Rookie honors from numerous publications. Graham struggled to get on the field in 2011 playing in just four games after spending the first half of the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list. Tapp believes that Graham dedicated himself to becoming the best player possible this offseason.
"It seems like this past offseason, when we had that time alone to ourselves, he got in a quiet closet and found himself in my opinion," Tapp said.
Tapp is adding his own flavor to these Organized Team Activities by being the voice of constant chatter on the field whether it's in the individual drills or when the offense squares off against the defense. It was a role previously owned by cornerback Asante Samuel until he was traded.
"I was doing it last year, but Asante was on such an elite level as far as his chatter and intensity that everyone else got overlooked," Tapp said. "You have to continue to add excitement and have fun out here and not let things get monotonous. You can't get in the same old routine. You have to add something to the practice so the day goes by otherwise it'll drag on the entire time."
Tapp's bullhorn was developed while he was at Deep Creek High School in Chesapeake, Va. Tapp felt he needed to find a way to stand out from his two older brothers and make a name for himself. Now, Tapp is embarking on his seventh NFL season. In his first two years in Philadelphia, after five years in Seattle, Tapp had 5.5 sacks. The 6-1, 270-pound Tapp brings a force of power off of the left side of the offensive line. Tapp explained that most of last season was spent learning how to play the way defensive line coach Jim Washburn wants. With the year of experience, Tapp can take the time during these OTAs to truly understand the reason behind the technique.
"With the defensive line, it honestly starts with our stance and alignment. I know that sounds kind of easy, I mean that's all we do, but there's really a science to the way you line up and the way you line up leads to the way you step and so forth and so on," Tapp said. "It's all about focusing on the little things to take care of the big ones."
Washburn has not had to spend a lot of time barking at his players during the OTAs. That doesn't mean the veteran coach has calmed down.
"Honestly, I think he's just saving it up for training camp," Tapp said jokingly. "We understand what he wants and we're trying to do the right thing all of the time."
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