NFC North: Darryl Tapp

Lions Camp Report: Day 5

August, 1, 2014
Aug 1
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Detroit Lions training camp:
  • Rough day for the first-team offense during a two-minute drill situation. Defensive ends George Johnson and Darryl Tapp -- neither of whom is expected to be a first-team defender this season -- had touch sacks of Matthew Stafford. Stafford and the offense also went three-and-out on one possession with the quarterback being forced to throw away multiple passes when no one was open. Not surprisingly, Ndamukong Suh was also causing havoc up the middle. The second team fared better, scoring a touchdown and having Giorgio Tavecchio also make a 41-yard field goal to close practice. Jim Caldwell didn't seem too concerned, though, with any of the issues the first-team offense was having.
  • Why not? Well, the first-team offense still has Calvin Johnson, who made two exceptional catches Friday to show why he is the top receiver in the game. He grabbed a touchdown in 7-on-7 after the play was whistled dead, but the way he plucked it was exceptional. There was another play in which a Stafford pass looked like it was headed nowhere, then Johnson came out of his break, dove perfectly on the low ball and caught the ball in front of Chris Greenwood in 11-on-11. It was one of those plays that no defensive back can do anything about. And that has nothing to do with Greenwood, as other cornerbacks will attest to.
  • This was perhaps the best day for Detroit's kicking competitors thus far. Combined, Nate Freese and Tavecchio went 11-for-11, including Tavecchio's 41-yarder to end practice in a two-minute situation. Both also made field goals from 53 yards during a special teams section of practice. Meanwhile, Sam Martin is having a great camp punting. He continually boots punts of more than 65 yards and appears stronger than his rookie season already.
  • Among the defenders who stood out was rangy cornerback Mohammed Seisay. The Nebraska product, whom I wrote about more in depth here, is still a longshot to make the roster. However, with uncertainty in the final one or two cornerback spots, a strong camp could make him a consideration. He read a pass to tight end Eric Ebron perfectly during one-on-ones and broke the play up well. He wasn't the only defensive back to grab attention, as Darius Slay continued to have a strong camp, including a good pass breakup in the one-on-one session.
  • Mentioned Kevin Ogletree on Thursday and he put together another good practice, but Corey Fuller is starting to catch some notice as well among wide receivers. He caught a long pass in the two-minute drill from Dan Orlovsky after easily beating Greenwood. He also had nice catches during the receiver-vs.-defensive back session on both Nevin Lawson and Cassius Vaughn. He is a much more confident player than he was a season ago and looks like a completely different one -– an assessment he said he agreed with following practice.
  • The Lions return to practice at 10:30 a.m. Saturday for their final day of the first week before taking Sunday off. Like Friday, Saturday is expected to be a fully-padded practice.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- He tried something different for a season, thinking even though he had been a defensive end for years, the transition to playing outside linebacker might work.

After a one-year stint with Washington, Darryl Tapp decided he needed to return to some familiarity, not with a team, but with a situation. In understanding why Tapp signed a one-year deal with the Detroit Lions, the answer is two-fold.

Going back to defensive end in a 4-3 and the coach he would play for, Jim Washburn.

“Our relationship actually started at the Senior Bowl,” Tapp said during a teleconference Friday. “Coach Washburn was with the Titans and his staff was the North, and he got his hands on me and that was my first introduction to the NFL, the way he coached me up and the way he brought me with the speed and the way they do things in the NFL.

“Then, in Philadelphia, he had me again and I’ve been trying to get with that guy for the last five years at that time, and it just worked out well in Philadelphia.”

Tapp played two seasons for Washburn, 2011 and 2012 with the Eagles, before the two were separated again. But being a free agent for the second time in his career -- the first time was last season, when he took a chance on making a position switch -- Tapp knew he wanted to play for the guy he felt could really help him.

That was Washburn, so Detroit became a viable option.

Whether he is the same player or not, though, is debatable. His production has dipped every year since 2008, when he had 54 tackles and 5.5 sacks. After a 2009 season with 49 tackles for Seattle, he was traded to Philadelphia.

He hasn’t played 16 games in a season or made more than 30 tackles in a season since. Tapp, though, doesn’t believe he has diminished as a player. According to Pro Football Focus, he graded out positively in every season he played except for last season at outside linebacker and, coincidentally, the 2008 season, which was his best statistical year.

“Stat line don’t always tell the story,” Tapp said. “Let’s get that first and foremost. I’m the same player that I was coming out of the draft, just a few years older and a few years wiser.”

Whether he’s able to contribute will be determined.

If you’re looking for more on Tapp, here’s what our Washington reporter, John Keim, told me about him.
The Lions, lying in wait for this new year. ...

The signing is not as high-profile as Golden Tate and is not expected to make anywhere near the same impact, either, but the Detroit Lions attempted to fill a need Thursday when the team signed Darryl Tapp from Washington.

Much like we did with Tate in this space on Thursday, I caught up with my colleague in Washington, John Keim, to get a feeling of what the Lions might be getting with the 29-year-old, who will turn 30 during the 2014 season.

"Darryl Tapp had to learn a new position last season and there’s no way to do that in just one season. He’d been mostly a backup defensive end prior to joining the Redskins, who moved him to an outside linebacker’s role," Keim wrote. "But he was never going to be anything other than a spot player in Washington with Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan on the outside. They hoped he could provide some pass-rush help in certain packages, but that never really materialized.

"But Tapp showed that he was strong at the point of attack out of a two-point stance and when he did get pressure it stemmed from that strength, especially in his lower body as he played with good leverage. He worked well against tight ends in the run game.

"The Redskins were content to let him go, however, and they’re still looking for pass-rush help. They also have a young outside linebacker in Brandon Jennings and would like to add more young players who can help on special teams. They’re also keeping an eye on former backup Rob Jackson, an unrestricted free agent who hasn’t gotten much of a sniff thus far. But there’s a chance he and Jenkins could be the backups next season, making Tapp expendable.”

Tapp had 10 tackles and a sack last season. His best season was in 2008, when he had 54 tackles and 5.5 sacks. He probably isn't a suitable replacement for Willie Young, but the Lions are probably expecting Jason Jones or Devin Taylor to fill that role in 2014.

And now, a look around the Interwebs at a ton of Lions news from Thursday:

Third and one: Packers

December, 28, 2009
After Green Bay’s 48-10 victory over Seattle, here are three (mostly) indisputable facts I feel relatively sure about:

  1. When place-kicker Mason Crosby trotted out for a 52-yard attempt in the fourth quarter, my first reaction was incredulity. Why would coach Mike McCarthy put Crosby in position for a difficult field goal for any kicker, let alone one that’s slumping? Wouldn’t a miss only further disintegrate his confidence? But upon reflection, it’s the only thing McCarthy could do to remain on message. He said last week that he was fully confident in Crosby. Passing on a field goal in that situation would have suggested otherwise. That Crosby nailed the kick was an added bonus, and it was nice to see teammates and coaches offer genuine congratulations afterward.
  2. Tailback Ryan Grant had 1,203 yards last season and has 1,202 yards this year with one game left to play. But I don’t think there’s any doubt that this year’s production has been more valuable and more explosive. For the most part, Grant is giving the Packers everything they want from a tailback. His 56-yard touchdown run Sunday gave him eight runs of 20 or more yards this season. He’s nearly tripled his scoring output from last season, from four touchdowns to 10. He’s only had three 100-yard games, but there is obviously much more to a running back’s success than that milestone.
  3. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers tried to smooth over his public give-and-take with Seattle defensive end Darryl Tapp, who denied Rodgers’ claims last week that he bit him during the team’s 2008 meeting. Rodgers approached Tapp during a timeout, asking him why he reacted angrily to the accusation. “Didn’t get a lot of feedback,” Rodgers said. He added: “I think I kind of regret saying something for the most part I was saying in jest. I had no ulterior motive to try and make him look bad. I didn’t say he was a dirty player.” I agree. A year-old infraction, real or imagined, is best left unmentioned.

And here is one question I’m still asking:
Will cornerback Charles Woodson be the defensive player of the year? Fans were chanting “MVP” at the end of the game, but voters don’t typically stray from quarterbacks on that award. But Woodson and New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis appear to be the front-runners for DPOY. Woodson’s 2009 legend grew another level Sunday when he sniffed out a Seahawks play early enough to warn safety Atari Bigby about the likely direction of the pass. Woodson was right, and the jump he gave Bigby was enough to cause an interception.

Halftime: Packers 24, Seahawks 3

December, 27, 2009
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A few thoughts from Lambeau Field:

  • The Packers have a gold-plated cakewalk to the playoffs. They have a three-touchdown lead at home over Seattle. Meanwhile, the New York Giants trail Carolina 31-0. Assuming those scores hold up, the Packers will clinch a wild-card spot. Seeding to be determined.
  • Kudos to the Packers and Lambeau Field officials for displaying the Carolina-Giants score as part of the regular rotation on the out-of-town scoreboard. I’m glad they’re not worried about silly superstition or that their players might be distracted. Giving fans information should be the primary focus.
  • This hasn’t been one of quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ best games. He’s misfired on 10 of 18 passes and had a particularly rough sequence in the first quarter. (He won’t be putting that fumble-wild incompletion-knockdown play on his highlight video anytime soon.) But his 40-yard pass down the left sideline to receiver Greg Jennings was a thing of beauty. It also gave him 4,000 yards on the season, making him the only quarterback in NFL history to start his career with two 4,000-yard seasons.
  • Seahawks defensive end Darryl Tapp has been everywhere, and it’s no surprise. Tapp was livid last week when Rodgers accused him of biting during last season’s meeting between the teams. Officially, Tapp has two tackles and a half-sack. But he’s been chasing Rodgers all over the field, and it looks like he’s said a number of things that have elicited a smile from Rodgers.
  • Tailback Ryan Grant had 17 yards on his first eight carries before breaking through with a 56-yard touchdown run.
  • The Seahawks have hurt themselves with two turnovers, including an Atari Bigby interception at the goal line.
  • For those tracking every move of place-kicker Mason Crosby, I can report to you there isn’t a strong enough wind at Lambeau Field to cause the ball to knuckle the way it did on his 29-yard field goal to end the half.

Black and Blue all over: Rodgers' arm

December, 24, 2009
Not enthused about Sunday’s Seattle-Green Bay matchup? Here’s another layer of drama for you.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers revealed Wednesday that Seahawks defensive end Darryl Tapp bit his left arm during the team’s 2008 matchup at Qwest Field.

"I wasn’t too happy about that," Rodgers told Wisconsin reporters. "...He bit me through my long-sleeve I was wearing. There wasn’t a whole lot of words spoken. I looked down and my arm was hurting like a bee sting, and I looked down and he was biting my arm. I had to get his teeth off my shoulder."

Tapp denied the accusation when asked by reporters, noting it would be difficult to bite another player through a facemask. Rodgers, however, seemed pretty convinced.

He should be protected Sunday at Lambeau Field, however, I believe Wisconsin is a no-carnivore state.

Continuing around the NFC North: