In a statement that doesn’t need any sort of letter grade added to it or a clarifying backstory, the Washington Redskins have one of the best linebacking corps in the National Football League.
While it might start at the top with the sage veteran in London Fletcher and returning Pro Bowler Brian Orakpo, it isn’t just the starting four linebackers that assemble such a talented group. As Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys know best with Rob Jackson, the burgundy and gold have talent across the board in the center of Jim Haslett’s 3-4 defensive scheme.
For Tapp, Monday’s game serves more than just a Redskins debut for the eight-year veteran. It’s his first game against his employer of three years.
Tapp may not be seen on the airwaves very often, but there is no way you can miss him both on and off the field. While football is one of the most grueling activities one can put the human body through, Tapp is always sporting an infectious smile.
Linebacker coach Bob Slowik noticed this the first day they met.
“There’s a smile on his face all the time,” Slowik said with you guessed it—a smile. “He has a great attitude. There’s going to be adversity, and someone like him is going to keep fighting with a smile on his face.”
Slowik is actually Tapp’s first linebacker coach ever. No really he is. Before signing with the Redskins in March, Tapp spent his entire career in 3-4 schemes, digging his hands in the dirt as a defensive end. In Haslett’s scheme however, he’s converted to linebacker in a move that he committed to the second it was offered.
“I jumped on it fast. I didn’t even second guess it,” Tapp said before practice on Thursday. “For them to even call me and want me to come in was truly an honor, because I’ve always been a 4-3 defensive end and they wanted me to switch to outside linebacker [due] to the 3-4.
“So it’s something new. I heard the plan they had for me and loved it. I’ve always known they have an awesome coaching staff here [and] great players, so I just wanted to be a part of it. So I quickly jumped on the offer.”
Monday’s game offers the perfect litmus test for how well he’s transitioned to a more upright position. Regardless of who is coaching the Eagles or what formations they are going to line up in, Philadelphia has some of the fastest players in the NFL to their credit over the past few years.
“We’ll definitely see how it turns out. I’ve been getting coached up since day one and this is that time to go out there and show what you’ve learned. It’s going to be exciting and a lot of fun. The guys over there of course I still know, but I’m just happy to be a Redskin now and we are trying to get this win.”
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