In a matter of moments, it seemed, Darryl Tapp's time in the headlines vanished. Acquired in a trade with Seattle during the free-agency period, Tapp's arrival was then overshadowed by the draft and the selections of Brandon Graham and Daniel Te'o-Nesheim. What about Tapp? Headlines or not, he figures to be a huge piece of what the Eagles want to do up front.
Tapp ran with the second team in the post-draft camps, lining up behind Pro Bowl right end Trent Cole. Don't read into that too much, because Tapp has a chance to play significant snaps on both ends, and even inside when the Eagles have their nickel defense on the field. Tapp is a "fastball," as Andy Reid likes to say, and the Eagles hope that with all of the additions up front, they can speed rush and play relentless football at the line of scrimmage and wear down an offense.
The defense is going to be challenged by physical running games all season, so the first order of business is to stop the run. Cole uses his hands well, plays with great leverage and has the kind of brute force that allows him to excel in run or pass situations. Juqua Parker is going to see his share of power football, too, and faces the same challenges against the run.
With Graham and Te'o-Nesheim and, yes, Tapp, the Eagles have more depth on paper up front than they have had in a long time. The Eagles must determine how all three fit, and how quickly the rookies can be counted on to produce in the NFL.
Tapp is an intriguing player. He had early success in his time with Seattle, and then the coaching staff changed, the scheme changed and Tapp's numbers went down. Still, the Eagles liked what they saw, enough so that after Tapp signed his restricted free agent tender with the Seahawks, the Eagles worked out a deal and sent veteran end Chris Clemons to Seattle to bring in Tapp.
He can play both sides of the line of scrimmage, a plus as Sean McDermott looks to make his defense as unpredictable and as versatile as possible. Tapp worked on his technique throughout the spring and came away feeling good about his progress and his expected role in the defense.
"It's a good scheme for me and they want me to do the things I've done in the past," said Tapp. "I'm going to be aggressive and play hard football. I'm going 100 miles an hour all the time. That's the way I play. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter where I play, because I know I'm going to help the team."
The Eagles want Tapp's energy and his speed off the edge, no matter what side. Shortly after trading for Tapp, the Eagles signed him to a contract extension. He figures into the picture here for the future, too.
It is the present that matters. The Eagles devoted a lot of resources in the months behind us on the defensive line. They need a complement or two to Cole, who is one of the best in the game, but who could benefit from taking a series or two off in each game. Tapp, whether he starts or not, is going to play. He is going to contribute.
And in the wide-angle view of the defensive line, Tapp's presence means as much as anything for the group to take the next step. He has to be a major factor as a starter or as a reserve, on the right side or on the left side.
Nobody is talking much about Tapp, but the Eagles know how critical his play is to their success.
NEWS, NOTES, AND A LITTLE BIT OF THIS AND THAT
- Tough injury for the Giants, losing kick returner Domenick Hixon to a torn ACL during a practice this week. Hixon made a lot of big plays for the Giants on special teams last season
- Expect the Eagles to sign draft pick Riley Cooper soon and then pause to see how the landscape settles before signing top draft picks Graham and Nate Allen prior to the start of training camp. The Eagles have done an excellent job locking up so many draft picks so early. It is not easy bringing 13 draft picks to contract terms so quickly.
- The team's strength and conditioning program ends on Thursday. There have still been several players working out at the NovaCare Complex since the OTA's ended, but now it will become really quiet aroung here.
- One of the best training camp battles to watch is going to be at tight end. Clay Harbor, Cornelius Ingram and Martin Rucker are all young and talented and they bring some great competition behind Brent Celek. The question is how many tight ends the Eagles keep.
- He may not start, but I still think Akeem Jordan will earn a lot of playing time as a cover linebacker. He emerged from the spring playing excellent football.
- I like how Trevor Laws has worked in this off-season. He is stronger and faster and he has a better burst off the ball. I expect Laws to play his way back into the rotation with a strong training camp. Just my prediction. But I'll tell you, Antonio Dixon looks completely different than he did last year. He is much stronger and faster. Good battle there with draft pick Jeff Owens.