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Originally published Thursday, June 5, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Darryl Tapp takes leadership role after 2 seasons

Darryl Tapp could easily choose to narrow his sights on fending off competition this offseason to keep his place with Patrick Kerney atop...

Seattle Times staff reporter

KIRKLAND — Darryl Tapp could easily choose to narrow his sights on fending off competition this offseason to keep his place with Patrick Kerney atop the depth chart at defensive end.

Becoming a full-time starter in just his second NFL season solidified his role on the Seahawks and made him a marked man for the backups.

Only worrying about such things just wouldn't be Tapp. He's all about making sure his teammates know that he supports them. Even though the Seahawks drafted rookie Lawrence Jackson in the first round this year at Tapp's position, and even though veterans Chris Cooper, Jason Babin and second-year player Baraka Atkins are also in the mix trying to earn more snaps in practice and eventually, games.

Case in point: The Seahawks' one-on-one pass rush drill, a sight to see because it pits a defensive lineman trying to overpower or get away from an offensive lineman and get to a blocking dummy that serves as the quarterback. With each victory by his defensive teammates, Tapp is the first to leave the sideline and congratulate, leaping in the air with the player to bump chests.

"That's me!" Tapp said with a wide grin. "I'm an excited player. The game is still new to me, being only 23. So I'm enjoying every day out there at practice."

Tapp's attitude is infectious and spreads from starters to practice-squad guys and undrafted players. On Wednesday, after Nu'u Tafisi scored an individual win, Tapp rushed over to celebrate. Babin and defensive tackle Craig Terrill jumped with Tafisi, too.

"Playing defense period is just an enthusiastic type of thing," Tapp said. "You have to be able to dig deep in times when you really think you don't have it. So when guys do well, you've got to let them know."

Tapp said he can take more of a leadership role with the Seahawks now that he has gained some experience.

"I'm comfortable in the system. I know what's going on," Tapp said. "How to carry myself in game-type situations. It's not so much coming out here and feeling my way through. It's taking over."

Tapp, who tied a team record with four sacks in a game against St. Louis last season, also said it is his job to help the younger players, the way former Seahawks Grant Wistrom and Bryce Fisher were there for him when he was a rookie.

Jackson is paying attention.

"That's part of his personality," Jackson said of Tapp. "Everybody gets hyped up in different ways, but it can loosen you up in practice if you're having a rough period."

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Healthy Hasselbeck

A year ago at this time, Matt Hasselbeck was working his way back from surgery to his nonthrowing shoulder. Which is why the Seattle quarterback is glad to be fully healthy during the team's current minicamp.

"It is way more fun getting to play football," Hasselbeck said.

Former Husky released

Anthony Russo, the former UW wide receiver signed by the Seahawks as a free agent after the April draft, was released Wednesday.

The Seahawks signed receiver Trent Shelton to replace Russo on the roster. Russo did not practice Monday or Tuesday because of injury.

Shelton is 6 feet, 202 pounds, and played at Baylor before spending two weeks in September 2007 on the Indianapolis Colts' practice squad. He made his practice debut Wednesday.

Note

• The Seahawks were in Kirkland for practice after rain moved Tuesday's session to an indoor facility at the University of Washington.

José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or jromero@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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